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r  o  R.Y 


THE    ALPS 

IN    NATURE   AND    HISTORY 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Arciiive 

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THE   ALPS 

IN   NATURE   AND   HISTORY 


BY 

W.    A.    B.    COOLIDGE,    M.A. 

FELLOW   OF    MAGDALEN    COLLEGE,    OXFORD 

HONORARY   MEMBER   OF   THE   ENGLISH,    FRENCH 

AND   ITALIAN    ALPINE   CLUBS 


WITH   MAP,    ILLUSTRATIONS,    AND   DIAGRAMS 


NEW  YORK 

E.  p.  BUTTON  AND  COMPANY 

31  WEST   TWENTY-THIRD   STREET 

1908 


DQ 


PREFACE 

THE  following  pages  are  not  intended  to  be  either 
an  exhaustive  description  of  the  Alps  or  a  series  of 
impressions  of  travel  amongst  them.  But  they  do  claim 
to  offer  to  the  reader  an  account  of  the  most  interesting 
features  presented  by  the  Alps  from  several  points  of 
view,  and  an  account  that  is  based  on  the  personal  expe- 
riences of  over  forty  years'  wandering  through  almost 
every  district  of  the  great  chain. 

No  attempt  has  been  made  to  explain  how  the  Alps 
came  into  being,  or  how  in  the  course  of  long  ages  their 
outlines  and  valleys  may  have  changed.  They  are  taken 
as  they  exist  in  the  early  twentieth  century,  and  treated 
as  practically  unchangeable.  In  the  early  chapters  they 
are  looked  at  from  the  physical  side, — their  extent,  their 
pastures,  their  glaciers,  their  flowers,  and  their  beasts  and 
birds  being  successively  described.  Then  we  come  to 
Man  in  the  Alps,  first  man  in  himself  as  a  human  being 
actually  inhabiting  various  districts  of  the  chain,  speaking 
divers  languages,  and  professing  several  forms  of  belief, 
and  next  man  as  the  subject  of  political  vicissitudes  of 
history,  which  naturally  have  affected  his  home  as  well  as 
himself  In  particular,  an  attempt  has  been  made  to 
trace  out  the  political  or  territorial  history  of  the  chief 
summits  of  the  Alps.      In   later  chapters   Man    is  con- 


vi     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

sidered  in  his  relation  to  the  principal  passes  across  the 
Alps,  and  as  the  explorer  of  the  innermost  recesses  of  the 
High  or  snowy  Alps,  this  naturally  entailing  some 
notice  of  the  Guides  of  the  Alps,  through  whose  efforts 
and  loyalty  the  High  Alps  were  gradually  conquered.  A 
short  chapter  sketches  the  impressions  made  at  different 
seasons  of  the  year  on  one  who  dwells  among  them,  or 
who  often  visits  them. 

In  the  final  chapter  of  the  work  the  Alps,  hitherto 
looked  at  as  a  whole,  are  considered  in  detail  as  forming 
twenty  groups,  with  divers  characteristic  features.  In 
the  Appendix,  Lists  are  given  of  the  heights  of  the  prin- 
cipal peaks  and  passes  of  the  Alps,  arranged  in  the  twenty 
groups  enumerated  above,  of  the  dates  of  the  successive 
conquests  of  the  more  important  summits,  and  of  some  of 
the  books  relating  to  the  chain  as  a  whole  that  can  be 
recommended  to  readers  desiring  to  examine  the  subject 
more  closely. 

I  desire  to  lay  special  stress  upon  the  fact  that  com- 
paratively little  has  been  said  in  these  pages  as  to  matters 
of  Natural  Science  connected  with  the  Alps.  Such  sub- 
jects are  best  studied  in  more  special  treatises,  while  the 
present  work  aims  only  at  giving  a  general  account  of  the 
Alps  without  trying  to  explain  or  to  investigate  the 
natural  phenomena  which  are  to  be  found  therein. 
Thanks  to  two  well-qualified  friends,  to  whom  I  here 
offer  my  heartiest  acknowledgments  for  their  help,  the 
Flowers  of  the  Alps,  as  well  as  their  Beasts  and  Birds, 
are  treated  of  in  a  manner  which  should  prove  attractive 
to  many  readers.  But  here  again  things  are  described  as 
they  are  at  present,  and  not  the  evolution  of  things,  how- 
ever interesting  such  a  subject  may  be. 

I  have  also  to  thank  Mr.  D.  C.  Lathbury  most  sincerely 


PREFACE  vii 

for  the  courtesy  which  has  allowed  me  to  make  use  of 
various  articles  contributed  by  me  in  1901-1903  to  the 
Pilot.  A  portion  of  their  contents  is  included  in 
Chapter  XL,  as  well  as  in  groups  1-8  and  ii  of  the  special 
description  of  the  Alps  given  in  the  final  chapter  of  the 
work. 

The  Map  that  accompanies  this  work  has  been  care- 
fully prepared  by  Mr.  Bartholomew,  and  is  designed  to 
afford  a  bird's-eye  view  of  the  Alpine  chain,  with  its  prin- 
cipal peaks,  passes,  and  glaciers,  the  main  idea  being  to 
mark  the  way  in  which  the  mountains  rise  gradually  out 
of  the  plains  till  they  culminate  in  lofty  snow-clad 
summits. 

The  Illustrations  are,  for  the  most  part,  reproductions 
after  admirable  photographs  of  Signor  Vittorio  Sella,  to 
whom  I  beg  to  express  my  hearty  thanks  for  permitting 
me  to  adorn  my  book  with  some  of  his  marvellous  views 
of  the  High  Alps.  A  few  other  Illustrations  are  due  to 
the  kindness  of  several  friends,  Mr.  Alfred  Holmes, 
Monsieur  Victor  de  Cessole,  and  Signor  Guido  Rey,  who 
have  placed  them  at  my  disposition,  and  whom  I  beg  to 
assure  of  my  great  appreciation  of  their  readiness  to 
oblige,  for  it  is  not  easy  to  procure  certain  of  these  views. 

In  general  I  am  immensely  indebted  to  my  friend, 
Dr.  R.  L.  Poole  (Member  of  the  British  Academy,  and 
Fellow  of  Magdalen  College,  Oxford)  for  much  help  and 
advice,  particularly  as  regards  the  historical  Chapters 
(VII.  and  VIII.).  He  suggested  to  me  the  idea  of  framing 
diagrams  by  which  to  make  clear  the  relations  of  the 
Great  Historical  Passes  of  the  Alps.  Thanks  to  the 
skill  of  Mr.  Darbishire,  this  excellent  suggestion  has  been 
carried  out  in  a  manner  that  will  be  most  acceptable  to 
my  readers. 


viii  THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

I  have  also  to  acknowledge,  most  gratefully,  help  of 
various  kinds,  whether  in  the  shape  of  reading  proofs  or 
of  giving  valuable  hints,  rendered  by  four  other  friends : 
Sir  Martin  Conway,  Mr.  Douglas  W.  Freshfield,  Mr.  W.  M. 
Baker,  and  Herr  H.  Diibi. 

W.  A.  B.  C. 

Grindelwald,  April  1908. 


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CONTENTS 


CHAP. 

I.  WHAT  ARE  'THE  ALPS'? 

n.  THE  PASTURES  OF  THE  ALPS, 

HI.  THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS, . 

IV.  ALPINE  FLOWERS.     By  George  Yeld,  . 

V.  SOME    BEASTS   AND    BIRDS    OF    THE    ALPS. 
Howard  V.  Knox,  .... 

VI.  THE  ALPINE  FOLK, 

1.  Political  Allegiance, 

2.  Mother  Tongues, 

3.  Religions,  .... 

VII.  THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS, 
General  History  up  to  1033, 

1.  The  Western  Alps, 

(i)  The  House  of  Savoy, 

(2)  The  Dauphins  of  the  Vicnnois, 

(3)  Provence,       .... 
Political  Peaks,      .... 

2.  The  Central  Alps, 

A.  The  Struggle  with  the  Milanese, 

(a)  Val  d'Ossola,     . 
{d)  Bellinzona,  Locarno,  and  Lugano, 
[c)  The  Valtelline, 
Political  Peaks, 

B.  The  Struggle  towards  the  North, 

(a)  The  Vallais  and  Berne, 

{d)  Uri,        .... 

(c)  The  Grisons, 

3.  The  Eastern  Alps, 
(i)  Their  Occupation  by  the  Habsburgers, 

A.  The  'Swiss  Phase'  of  the  Family,    . 


By 


PAGE 

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10 

IS 
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124 


THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 


B.  The 'Austrian  Phase,'. 

{a)  Austria  proper,  Carniola,  and  Stj'ria,  . 
(d)  Carinthia,  .... 

(c)  The  Tyrol,         .... 

C.  The  'Venetian  Phase,' 
The    Alpine    Lands    of    the     Habsburgers    during    the 

Napoleonic  Era,  .... 

(ii)  The  Bavarian  Highlands, 
Political  Peaks,  ...... 

VIII.  THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES  OF  THE   ALPS, 

Passes  Known  to  the  Romans,     .... 

1.  Great  Passes  in  the  Western  Alps, 

2.  Great  Passes  in  the  Central  Alps, 

3.  Great  Passes  in  the  Eastern  Alps, 


IX.  THE  EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS    UP   TO 

THE  END  OF  1865, 

1.  Ascents  made  before  1760, 

2.  Ascents  made  between  1760  and  c.  1800, 

3.  Ascents  made  between  r.  1800  and  c.  1840, 

4.  Ascents  made  between  c.  1840  and  1865, 

X.  MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  IN  THE  HIGH  ALPS, 
XI.  ALPINE  GUIDES,      ...... 

XII.  A  YEAR'S  ROUND  IN  THE  ALPS, 

XIII.  THE  VARIOUS  DIVISIONS  AND   GROUPS   OF  THE 
ALPS, 

A.  The  Main  Divisions, 

B.  The  Principal  Groups, 

I.  Western  Alps,    . 

1.  Maritime  Alps, 

2.  Cottian  Alps, 

3.  Dauphine  Alps, 

4.  Graian  Alps,   . 

5.  Chain  of  Mont  Blanc  (Western  Pennine  Alps), 

6.  Central  Pennine  Alps, 

7.  Eastern  Pennine  Alps, 

II.  Central  Alps,  . 

8.  Bernese  Alps, 


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2l6 

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312 

317 
317 


CONTENTS 


XI 


9.  Lepontine  Alps, 

10.  The  Range  of  the  Todi, 

11.  The  Alps  of  North-East  Switzerland, 

12.  Bernina  Alps, 

13.  Albula  Group, 

14.  Silvretta  and  Rhatikon  Group, 

III.  Eastern  Alps, 

15.  The  Alps  of  Bavaria,  the  Vorarlberg,  and  Salzburg 

16.  Ortler,  Oetzthal,  and  Stubai  Ranges, 

17.  Lombard  Alps,  .... 

18.  Central  Tyrolese  Alps,  ... 

19.  The  Dolomites  of  the  South  Tyrol,     . 

20.  South-Eastern  Alps,    . 


322 
326 

329 

332 
337 
340 

344 
344 
347 
352 
356 
361 
369 


APPENDICES 


I.  List  of  the  Principal  Peaks  and  Passes  in  the  Alps, 

II.  Select    List    of    the    Principal    Peaks    in    the    Alps 

arranged  according  to  the  Date  at  which    they 

were  first  Conquered,      ..... 

III.  List  of  the  Principal  Works  relating  to  the  Alps,   . 


)73 


397 

408 


INDEX, 


411 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

THE   SASS   MAOR    (DOLOMITES)    FROM    THE    PALA    DI 

SAN  MARTINO,  .....         Frontispiece 

(This  peak  rises  S.  of  the  Pala  di  San  Martino,  and  therefore 
E.  of  the  valley  of  Primiero,  over  which  it  towers  grandly.  The 
summit  seen  to  the  left  is  the  higher,  9239  ft.,  while  the  lower, 
the  Cima  della  Madonna,  9026  ft.,  rises  to  the  right  hand  of  the 
spectator.  Together  they  form  one  of  the  most  daring  and  im- 
posing of  the  Dolomites.  The  ascent  of  both  points  is  very 
difficult,  the  easiest  way  being  up  the  N.  face,  that  seen  in  our 
view,  to  the  gap  between  the  two  summits.  The  point  in  the  fore- 
ground is  the  Cima  di  Ball,  9131  ft.,  which  takes  its  name  from 
the  famous  English  mountain  explorer). 

THE    SCHRECKHORN    RANGE    (BERNESE    OBERLAND) 

FROM  THE  FINSTERAARHORN,  .  Opposite  page  \ 

(It  is  nearly  impossible  to  get  a  good  view  of  the  S.W.  side  of 
this  range,  except  from  the  top  of  the  Finsteraarhorn,  which  rises 
to  the  S.  The  long  ridge  of  the  Strahlegghorner,  11,444  ft. — the 
pass  of  the  Strahlegg  is  just  not  seen — leads  up  to  the  foot  of  our 
range,  and  divides  the  Strahlegg  Glacier,  seen  on  the  right  of  the 
spectator,  from  the  upper  basin,  not  seen,  of  the  Lower  Grindel- 
wald  Glacier.  In  the  main  range  itself  we  have,  going  from  left  to 
right,  abit  oftheGwachten,  10,397  ft.  ;  the  Gwachtenjoch,  10,365 
ft.;  the  Klein  Schreckhorn,  11,474  ft.  ;  the  Nassijoch,  11,221  ft. 
the  Nassihorn  ridge,  12,300  ft. ;  the  Gross  Schreckhorn,  13,386  ft. 
the  Schrecksattel,  13,052  ft.  ;  the  Gross  Lauteraarhorn,  13,265  ft. 
the  Klein  Lauteraarhorn,  12,277  ft.,  and  the  other  points  on  the 
ridge  dividing  the  Strahlegg  Glacier  from  the  Lauteraar  Glacier. 
Behind  our  range  is  seen  that  separating  the  Lauteraar  Glacier 
from  the  Gauli  Glacier,  and  still  more  in  the  background  the 
ridge  that  limits  on  N.  the  Gauli  Glacier  itself). 

xiii 


xiv    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND    HISTORY 

THE  MARJELENSEE  (GROSS  ALETSCH  GLACIER), 

Opposite  page  15 

(This,  the  most  famous  of  all  glacier  lakes,  lies  at  a  height  of 
7766  ft.,  and  at  the  N.  foot  of  the  well-known  view-point  of  the 
Eggishorn,  in  the  Vallais.  It  occupies  part  of  the  nearly  level 
depression  separating  the  Fiescher  Glacier  from  the  Gross  Aletsch 
Glacier,  which  holds  in  the  lake  on  the  W.  Icebergs  generally 
float  upon  its  surface.  Despite  a  drainage  channel  to  protect  the 
pastures  to  the  E.  of  the  lake  its  waters  occasionally  escape 
towards  the  W.  by  .sub-glacial  channels  and  then  flood  the  en- 
virons of  Brieg.  To  the  left  of  the  spectator  a  bit  of  the  Mittel 
Aletsch  Glacier  is  seen,  then  comes  the  black  peak  of  the  Olmen- 
horn,  10,886  ft.,  beyond  which  is  the  long  ridge  of  the  Dreieck- 
horn,  12,540  ft.). 

A    CREVASSE    ON   THE    DZASSET   GLACIER    (EASTERN 

GRAIANS),         .....  Opposite  page  23 

(A  typical  crevasse  on  a  little  known  Italian  glacier). 

THE    MONT    HERBETET    (EASTERN    GRAIANS)     FROM 

THE  DZASSET  GLACIER,    .  .  .  Opposite  page  ^t, 

(This  fine  rocky  peak,  12,396  ft.,  though  far  from  being  the 
loftiest  summit  in  its  district,  is  by  many  considered  to  be  the 
most  striking  peak  of  the  region.  It  is  here  seen  from  the  S.E., 
the  very  jagged  ridge,  on  the  left  of  the  spectator,  being  the 
famous  S.  arete,  which  affords  a  delightful  series  of  exciting 
difficulties  to  rock  climbers). 

THE  WETTERHORN,  EIGER,  MONCH,  JUNGFRAU,  ETC. 
(BERNESE  OBERLAND)  FROM  THE  BLtlMLISALP- 
HORN,  .....  Opposite  page  46 

(In  the  foreground  we  see  the  delicate  snow  crest  that  forms 
the  summit  of  the  Blumlisalphorn,  12,044  ft.  Behind  it  are  the 
various  peaks  named,  going  from  left  to  right.  Beyond  the  great 
opening  of  the  Lauithor,  12,140  ft.,  to  the  right  of  the  Jungfrau, 
the  Fiescherhorner,  13,285  ft.,  and  the  Finsteraarhorn,  14,026  ft., 
are  seen  in  the  background.  To  the  right  of  the  Lauithor,  in  the 
middle  distance,  stretches  the  long  snowy  ridge,  crowned  by  the 
Gletscherhorn,  13,065  ft.,  the  Ebnefluh,  13,006  ft.,  and  the 
Mittaghorn,  12,779  ft.,  which  closes  the  head  of  the  Lauter- 
brunnen  valley,  and  forms  such  a  conspicuous  feature  in  the  well- 
known  view  from  the  frequented  village  of  Miirren). 


I 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS  xv 

MONTE  ROSA  FROM  THE  FALLERHORN,         .      Opposite  page  dt, 

(The  Fallerhorn,  10,270  ft.,  is  a  fine  view-point  in  the  ridge 
separating  the  Val  Sesia,  S.E.,  from  the  Val  Anzasca,  E.,  and 
running  S.E.  from  the  main  mass  of  Monte  Rosa.  The  upper 
portion  of  this  ridge  is  shown,  on  our  view,  from  the  Monte  delle 
Loccie,  11,477  ft-  (just  seen  on  the  extreme  right  of  the  spectator), 
past  the  depression  of  the  Col  delle  Loccie,  11,001  ft.,  over  the 
rocky  hump  of  the  Punta  dei  Tre  Amici,  11,618  ft.,  to  the 
Signaljoch,  12,441  ft.,  whence  it  rises  sharply  to  the  summit, 
the  Signalkuppe  or  Punta  Gnifetti,  14,965  ft.,  which  occupies 
the  centre  of  the  picture.  The  greater  part  of  our  view  (to  the 
left  of  the  spectator)  shows  the  glaciers  and  peaks  at  the  head  of 
the  Val  Sesia.  Going  from  left  to  right  we  see  the  rocky  Punta 
Giordani,  13,304  ft.,  and  the  snowy  Vincent  Pyramide,  13,829  ft., 
beyond  which  is  the  depression  of  the  Colle  Vincent,  13,652  ft. 
Thence  we  mount  over  the  minor  summits  of  the  Schwarzhorn, 
13,882  ft. — which  hides  the  Balmenhorn,  13,500  ft. — and  of  the 
Ludwigshohe,  14,259  ft.,  to  the  snowy  dome  of  the  Parrotspitze, 
14,643  ft.  Just  beyond  is  the  great  couloir  leading  up  to  the 
Sesiajoch,  14,515  ft.,  long  the  loftiest  pass  ever  crossed  in  the 
Alps,  and  then  rises  the  Signalkuppe,  which  hides  the  Colle 
Gnifetti,  14,699  ft.,  and  the  Zumsteinspitze,  15,004  ft.  The 
next  snowy  gap  is  the  Zumsteinsattel,  14,601  ft.,  beyond  which 
the  rocky  point  of  the  Dufourspitze  or  highest  summit  of  Monte 
Rosa,  15,217  ft.,  peers  over  the  watershed  and  frontier — for  it 
rises  on  a  spur  to  the  W.  of  both.  The  wide  opening  of  the 
Silbersattel,  14,732  ft. — at  present  the  loftiest  pass  yet  crossed 
in  the  Alps— leads  the  eye  on  to  the  Nord  End,  15,132  ft.  The 
smaller  portion  of  our  view,  from  the  Zumsteinsattel  to  the  Nord 
End,  shows  the  E.  face  of  Monte  Rosa,  that  forms  such  a  magnifi- 
cent spectacle  from  Macugnaga  at  the  head  of  the  Val  Anzasca). 

THE    POINTE    DES    ECRINS    AND    THE    PIC  COOLIDGE 
(DAUPHINE  ALPS)  FROM  THE  CHARDON  GLACIER, 

Opposite  page  75 
From  a  Photograph  by  Alfred  Holmes. 
(The  former  of  these  peaks,  13,462  ft.,  is  the  loftiest  point  of 
the  Dauphine  Alps,  while  the  latter,  12,323  ft.,  rises  to  its  S., 
and  is  one  of  the  finest  view-points  in  the  region.  The  S.W. 
slope  of  both  is  here  shown.  To  the  left  hand  of  the  spectator  is 
the  Ecrins,  followed  by  the  narrow  notch  of  the  Col  des  Aval- 
anches, 11,520  ft.,  whence  it  is  often  ascended.  Next  to  the  right 
comes  the  rock  tower  of  the  Fifre,  12,074  ft.,  which,  like  the  Pic 


xvi     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Coolidge,  just  beyond,  was  first  climbed  by  Mr.  Coolidge,  the 
lower  point  in  1881,  the  higher  in  1877.  The  Pic  Coolidge 
formerly  bore  several  names,  but  received  its  present  appellation 
in  1879  from  some  French  mountaineers  who  desired  to  com- 
memorate the  long-continued  explorations  of  the  author  of  these 
pages  in  the  district). 

LES     BANS    (DAUPHIN^    ALPS)    FROM     THE    PILATTE 

GLACIER,         .....  Opposite  page  %^ 

From  a  Photograph  by  Alfred  Holmes. 

(This  summit,  11, 979  ft.,  is  the  loftiest  that  rises  in  the  ranges 
which  form  the  S.  limit  of  the  main  or  Pelvoux  group  of  the 
Dauphine  Alps.  It  is  finely  situated  at  the  meeting-point  of  three  . 
Alpine  glens,  those  of  Pilatte,  of  Entraigues,  and  of  the  Val- 
gaudemar.  It  was  first  climbed  in  1878  by  Mr.  Coolidge  from 
the  snowy  gap,  the  Col  des  Bans,  11,090  ft.,  that  is  seen  to  the 
left  of  the  peak.  Some  way  farther  to  the  left,  but  invisible  on 
this  view,  is  the  more  famous  Col  de  la  Pilatte,  11,057  ft.,  which 
was  first  crossed  in  1864  by  Messrs  A.  W.  Moore,  H.  Walker, 
and  E.  Whymper.  The  great  Pilatte  Glacier  which  fills  the  fore- 
ground is  one  of  the  finest  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  and  is  the  main 
source  of  the  Veneon,  the  stream  that  flows  down  from  the  loftiest 
summits  of  the  region). 

MONT     BLANC     FROM     THE     RIDGE     OF    THE    MONT 

HERBETET,     .....  Opposite  page  <)i 

(The  real  height  and  majesty  of  Mont  Blanc,  15,782  ft.,  are 
always  best  realised  when  it  is  seen  from  the  South,  as  then  it 
towers  up  in  solitary  grandeur,  flanked  by  its  satellites.  It  here 
occupies  the  centre,  the  Mont  Maudit,  14,669  ft.,  and  the  Mont 
Blanc  du  Tacul,  13,941  ft.,  to  the  right  of  the  spectator,  leading 
the  eye  on  to  the  depression  of  the  Col  du  Geant.  The  long  and 
narrow  glacier  to  the  left  below  Mont  Blanc  is  that  of  Brouillard, 
while  more  to  the  right  is  that  of  the  Brenva,  one  of  the  most 
magnificent  glaciers  in  the  Alps). 

MONT  BLANC  FROM  THE  N.W.  BUTTRESS  OF  THE 

AIGUILLE  DU  G^ANT,        .  .  .  Opposite  page  203 

(This  view  is  a  pendant  to  our  other  view  of  the  Monarch  of 
Mountains,  which  is  here  seen  from  the  S.E.  across  the  great 
opening  of  the  Col  du  Geant.  The  summit  below  Mont  Blanc 
is  the  Tour  Ronde,  12,441  ft.     To  the  left  of  the  spectator  and 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS  xvii 

of  Mont  Blanc  the  rocky  Aiguille  Noire  de  Peteret,  12,402  ft., 
half  hidden  in  mist,  leads  the  eye  on  over  the  sharp  rock  needles 
named  the  Dames  Anglaises,  11,825  ft- — the  last  great  peak  in 
the  Alps  to  be  conquered,  for  it  held  out  till  1907 — to  the  splendid 
Aiguille  Blanche  de  Peteret,  13,482  ft.)- 

THE    MATTERHORN    FROM   THE    COL    DES    GRANDES 

MURAILLES,    .....  Opposite  page  2y^ 

(Our  view  shows  one  of  the  most  impressive  aspects  of  this 
famous  peak,  14,782  ft.,  being  taken  from  the  W.S.W.  To  the 
left  of  the  spectator  is  the  so-called  'Zmutt  arete,'  by  which  a 
very  difficult  route  has  been  forced  to  the  summit,  while  to  the 
right  of  this  grim  ridge  are  seen  the  gaunt  precipices  of  the  W. 
face  of  the  peak.  More  to  the  right  is  the  S.W.  face,  up  which 
leads  the  ordinary  route  from  the  Italian  side,  over  the  con- 
spicuous shoulder  of  the  Pic  Tyndall,  to  the  summit.  Far  more 
to  the  right  are  the  upper  snows  of  the  Gorner  Glacier,  to  the 
right  of  which  rise  the  highest  summits  of  Monte  Rosa  itself). 

THE   JUNGFRAU    (BERNESE     OBERLAND)   FROM    THE 

EBNEFLUHJOCH,       ....  Opposite  page  261 

(This  is  an  unusual  view  of  the  Jungfrau,  13,669  ft.,  one  of  the 
best-known  summits  of  the  Alps.  It  is  taken  from  the  Ebnefluh- 
joch,  12,304  ft.,  to  its  S.W.  The  cliffs  to  the  left  of  the  spectator 
fall  down  into  the  wild  Roththal  glen,  ill-famed  as  the  haunt  of 
many  spirits.  Far  to  the  left  a  bit  of  the  Silberhorn,  12,156  ft., 
is  seen,  and  then  the  gap  of  the  Silberllicke.  Above,  on  the 
shoulder  of  the  Jungfrau,  is  the  snow-field,  named  '  Hochfirn,' 
which  is  traversed  on  the  way  up  the  peak  from  the  Little  Scheid- 
egg  by  way  of  the  Silberllicke,  and,  still  higher,  is  the  top  of  the 
Jungfrau  itself.  The  S.E.  arete  of  the  peak,  up  which  goes  the 
ordinary  route  from  the  Roththalsattel,  12,655  ft.,  leads  the  eye 
down  to  that  depression — the  upper  portion  of  the  great  snow 
couloir  on  the  S.W.  side  of  which  is  seen — whence  the  ridge 
mounts  again  to  the  Roththalhorn,  12,947  ft.) 

THE  SOUTHERN  AIGUILLE  D'ARVES  (t)AUPHINE  ALPS) 

FROM  THE  COL  LOMBARD,  .  ,  Opposite  page  269 

From  a  Photograph  by  Victor  de  Cessole. 

(This  summit  is  the  most  southerly  of  the  three  Aiguilles  d'Arves, 
and  is  by  many  believed  to  be  the  highest  of  the  three  sisters, 
11,529  ft.     They  rise,  just  in  Savoy,  between  the  valleys  of  St. 

b 


xviii    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Jean  d'Arves,  to  the  N.W.,  and  that  of  Valloire  to  the  E.  Our 
view  shows  the  S.  face  of  the  peak,  the  two  small  snow-filled 
gullies,  just  to  the  right  hand  of  the  final  rocky  mass,  giving  access 
to  the  S.E.  arete,  which  is  crossed,  in  order  to  complete  the 
ascent,  first  made  in  1878  by  Mr.  Coolidge,  by  the  E.  face). 

MONTE  VISO  (COTTIAN  ALPS)  FROM  THE  NORTH-EAST, 

Opposite  page  292 
From  a  Photograph  by  GuiDO  Rey. 

(Monte  Viso,  12,609  ft-j  is  not  only  the  loftiest  summit  of  the 
Cottian  range,  but  is  also  the  one  great  peak  in  the  Alps  which  is 
mentioned  by  name  by  the  writers  of  classical  antiquity — it  is  so 
conspicuous  from  the  plain  of  Piedmont  that  it  has  always  been 
the  '  visible  mount.'  Our  view  shows  its  N.E.  face,  which  was 
first  climbed  by  Mr.  Coolidge  in  1881,  while  below  the  summit  is 
seen  the  glacier  that  is  the  real  source  of  the  Po.  To  the  right  of 
the  spectator  is  the  triple-pointed  Visolotto,  11,101  ft.,  also 
conquered  by  Mr.  Coolidge  in  1881). 

THE  MEIJE  (DAUPHINE  ALPS)  FROM  THE  SOUTH, 

Opposite  page  297 

(The  Meije,  the  second  in  height  of  the  Dauphine  Alps,  is 
here  seen  towering  above  the  Etan9ons  Glacier  that  extends  at  its 
S.  base.  To  the  left  of  the  spectator  is  the  deep  depression  of 
the  Breche  de  la  Meije  (10,827  ft.).  More  to  the  right  is  the 
small  hanging  glacier,  named  the  Glacier  Carre,  below  which  the 
'  Promontoire '  spur  stretches  far  into  the  Etan9ons  Glacier.  To 
the  right  of  the  Glacier  Carre  is  the  Grand  Pic  (13,081  ft.)  of 
the  Meije,  connected  by  a  toothed  ridge  with  the  Pic  Central  or 
DoigtdeDieu  (13,025  ft.).  Beyond  the  ridge  sinks  to  the  Breche 
Joseph  Turc  (12,697  ft-)?  and  then  rises  to  the  (invisible)  Pic 
Oriental  (12,832  ft.)  of  the  Meije). 

THE  GRAND  COMBIN  (CENTRAL  PENNINES)  FROM  THE 

GRAND  TAV6,  ....  Opposite  page  i\i 

(The  Grand  Combin  rises  to  the  N.E.  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
Pass,  and  is  the  only  peak  over  14,000  ft. — with  the  exception  of 
the  Finsteraarhorn,  14,026  ft.  in  the  Bernese  Oberland — that 
is  to  be  found  outside  the  Chain  of  Mont  Blanc  and  the  Monte 
Rosa  district.  It  is  here  seen,  from  its  least  steep  side,  rising 
above  the  glorious  Corbassiere  Glacier.  Of  the  two  highest 
snowy  horns,  that  to  the  left  of  the  spectator  is  the  Pointe  de 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS  xix 

Graffeneire,  14,108  ft.,  and  that  to  the  right,  the  Aiguille  du 
Croissant,  14,164  ft.,  the  culminating  summit  of  the  mountain. 
These  two  horns  are  only  about  15  minutes'  walk  distant  from 
each  other.  More  to  the  right  of  the  spectator  is  the  Combin  de 
Valsorey,  13,600  ft.,  whence  the  ridge  falls  away  to  the  opening 
of  the  Col  des  Maisons  Blanches,  11,241  ft.,  which  leads  from 
the  very  head  of  the  Corbassiere  Glacier  to  Bourg  St.  Pierre,  on 
the  Great  St.  Bernard  road). 

THE  MONTE  DELLA  DISGRAZIA  (BERNINA  ALPS)  FROM 

THE  FELLARIA  GLACIER,  .  .  Opposite  page  IZS 

(This  fine  peak,  12,067  ft.,  rises  as  a  great  spur  to  the  S.W.  of 
the  main  Bernina  group,  and  is  wholly  in  Italy.  Its  N.E.  face, 
with  the  Ventina  Glacier,  is  here  shown,  the  view  being  taken 
from  the  great  Fellaria  Glacier,  which  lies  on  the  S.  slope  of  the 
central  Bernina  Alps). 

THE  ORTLER  FROM  THE  MONTE  ZEBRU,  Opposite  page  349 

(The  Ortler,  12,802  ft.,  is  the  culminating  summit  of  the  Tyrol, 
as  well  as  of  the  Eastern  Alps.  We  here  admire  its  S.  side,  the 
eye  passing  over  the  depression  of  the  Hochjoch,  11,602  ft. — the 
highest  pass  in  the  Eastern  Alps — and  then  following  the  very 
difficult  S.  arete— first  forced  in  1875— which  leads  to  the  highest 
snow  plateau  and  so  to  the  corniched  summit  of  the  peak.  This 
arete,  in  its  entirety,  like  the  Ortler  itself,  is  wholly  in  the  Tyrol. 
The  slopes  to  the  left  of  this  arete  fall  towards  the  Italian  Zebru 
glen.  Those  to  the  right  descend  towards  the  Tyrolese  valley  of 
Sulden,  the  ridge  far  to  the  right  being  named  the  *  Hinter  Grat,' 
and  having  been  climbed  as  early  as  1805  on  occasion  of  the 
second  ascent  of  the  peak). 

THE  PALA  DI  SAN  MARTINO  (DOLOMITES)  FROM  THE 

ROSETTA,        .....  opposite  page  T,66 

(The  Pala  di  San  Martino,  9831  ft.,  has  been  compared  to  a 
mountain  castle.  It  rises  to  the  S.  E.  of  San  Martino  di  Castrozza, 
and  to  the  N.E.  of  the  village  of  Primiero.  Despite  its  relatively 
small  height  it  offers  one  of  the  more  difficult  climbs  in  the  Dolo- 
mites, which  is  effected  up  the  N.W.  wall  here  shown — this  is  the 
easiest  of  the  three  routes  known  up  the  peak,  and  that  by  which 
it  was  first  conquered  in  1878.  The  point  in  the  foreground, 
between  the  Rosetta  and  the  peak,  is  the  Cima  di  Roda, 
9121  ft.). 


XX     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

DIAGRAMS  SHOWING  THE  CHIEF  HISTORICAL 
PASSES  OF  THE  ALPS 


I.  From    the    Mediterranean    to    the 
Pass,  ..... 


Mont 


II.  The  Mont  Genevre  and  the  Mont  Cenis  Passes 

III.  The  Passes  over  the  Pennine  Alps, 

IV.  The  St.  Gotthard  Region, 
V.  The  Passes  from  Coire  to  Milan, 

VI.  The  Brenner  and  the  Passes  to  its  West, 
VII.  The  Brenner  and  the  Passes  to  its  East, 


G 

enevre 

To  face  p. 

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163 

- 

5 

167 

• 

5 
J 

53 

175 
179 

185 

193 

MAP 

General  Map  of  the  Alps 


Z 


O 
to 

a 


1:^ 


THE    ALPS 

IN    NATURE    AND    HISTORY 
CHAPTER   I 

WHAT    ARE    *  THE    ALPS  '  ? 

IT  is  tolerably  certain  that  most  readers  of  these  pages 
will  not  feel  the  slightest  hesitation  in  answering  the 
question  which  forms  the  title  of  this  chapter.  'The  Alps,' 
so  they  will  state  with  the  utmost  confidence,  is,  of  course,  the 
name  given  to  the  principal  mountain  range  in  Europe.  Can 
there  be  any  doubt  on  this  point  ?  they  will  ask,  with  a  spice 
of  incredulity.  Have  we  all  along  been  deceived  or  taken  in  by 
this  word  ?  or  has  the  writer  set  us  a  conundrum  ?  The  latter 
alternative  may  be  at  once  dismissed.  But  the  former  contains 
a  germ  of  truth,  and  perhaps  also  a  gHmmering  idea  on  the 
part  of  the  questionists  that  their  belief  is  not  so  solidly  based 
as  they  fondly  imagined.  No  doubt  the  sense  of  the  term 
indicated  above  is  that  which  is  most  widely  accepted  by  those 
who  do  not  dwell  amid  the  mountains,  and  are  therefore  far 
more  numerous  than  the  Alpine  folk.  But  if  we  look  a  little 
further  into  the  matter,  we  shall  discover  that  the  inhabitants 
of  the  Alps  attribute  to  the  name  we  are  considering  a  mean- 
ing which  is  quite  distinct  from  that  already  noted.  When  they 
speak  of  '  the  Alps '  they  have  in  mind  the  highland  summer 
pastures,  that  extend  along  the  mountain  slopes  below  the 
snow-line,  yet  at  a  considerable  height  above  the  village  itself. 
To  the  Alpine  folk,  as  we  shall  have  occasion  to  point  out  in 
the  next  chapter,  '  the  Alps '  in  this  sense  are  of  overwhelming 

A 


2      THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

practical  importance,  for  the  highland  summer  pastures  are  the 
centre  round  which  revolves  the  whole  social  economy  of  the 
mountain  dwellers.  Were  it  not  for  these  high  pastures  how 
could  the  cattle  be  maintained  in  summer,  as  the  meadows  close 
to  the  village  supply  only  winter  fodder?  and  if  there  were 
no  cattle,  the  entire  pastoral  life  of  the  Alpine  folk  would  be 
deprived  of  its  basis,  and  cease  to  be  possible. 

Both  senses  of  the  term  can  be  traced  back  through  many 
centuries.  It  is  not  clear,  indeed,  which  is  the  older  or  the 
original  meaning  of  the  word.  It  may  be  that  the  mountain 
dwellers  gave  the  name  to  the  highland  summer  pastures,  and 
that  the  early  travellers  who  visited  the  Alpine  valleys  learnt 
from  them  this  new  term  and  inaccurately  applied  it  to  the 
great  peaks  that  tower  above  these  pastures.  Or,  perhaps, 
the  mountain  dwellers  themselves,  when  questioned  on  the 
matter,  gave  their  visitors  to  understand  that  the  great  peaks, 
in  the  eyes  of  those  over  whose  homesteads  they  frowned,  were 
simply  continuations  or  extensions  of  the  summer  pastures, 
perhaps  indeed  once  the  site  of  such  pastures  in  former  days, 
before  the  frightful  increase  in  the  extent  of  the  barren  region 
of  ice  and  snow.  The  confusion  between  these  two  meanings 
of  '  the  Alps  '  finds  an  exact  parallel  in  that  which  prevails  in 
the  case  of  the  more  general  words,  '  Berg,'  '  alpe,'  '  montagne,' 
or  'monte.'  To  the  Alpine  folk  any  of  these  terms  conveys 
the  idea  of  a  highland  summer  pasture,  though  the  dweller  in 
the  plains  thinks  naturally  of  the  lofty  snoAvy  summits. 

It  would  be  an  interesting  line  of  inquiry  to  trace  out  the 
manner  in  which  the  mountain  dwellers  gradually  adopted  the 
sense  of  the  term  that  had  approved  itself  to  the  inhabitants  of 
the  plains,  and  which  perhaps  had  first  been  suggested  to  the 
Alpine  folk  when  they  received  a  visit  from  their  more  civilised 
neighbours.  But  we  cannot  enter  on  such  fascinating  bypaths, 
and  must  here  content  ourselves  with  remarking  that  to  the 
Alpine  folk  the  high  summits  are  naturally  objects  of  abhorrence, 
as  ever  threatening  the  scanty  fields  and  meadows  in  the  valley. 
In  the  course  of  time,  however,  the  primitive  mountain  inhabitants 
have  learnt  that  the  dreaded  snowy  peaks  can  become  to  them 


WHAT  ARE  'THE  ALPS'?  3 

a  veritable  gold-mine,  and  are  really  far  more  valuable  than 
their  much-cherished  pastures,  for  it  is  the  peaks  and  not  the 
pastures  that  attract  visitors  from  below  to  the  Alpine  glens,  and 
these  visitors  leave  much  gold  behind  them. 

In  this  work  the  term  '  the  Alps '  will  be  exclusively  employed 
(save  in  Chapter  11.)  to  mean  the  great  mountain-chain  that 
forms  the  most  conspicuous  physical  feature  of  the  continent  of 
Europe.  Viewed  as  a  whole,  it  forms  a  great  wall  or  rampart 
that  protects  Italy  on  the  N.  from  the  rude  outside  world, 
and  extends,  in  the  form  of  a  crescent,  from  the  shores  of  the 
Mediterranean,  on  the  W.,  to  those  of  the  Hadriatic,  on  the 
E.  On  either  slope  the  higher  ridges  gradually  sink  down  till 
they  subside  into  the  plains  of  Italy,  on  the  S.,  or  of  France, 
Switzerland,  and  Austria,  on  the  N.  But  this  huge  wall  or 
rampart,  though  forming  so  lofty  and  so  rugged  a  barrier,  has 
never  been  an  impassable  barrier,  whether  to  human  beings,  to 
plants,  to  animals,  or  to  winds,  though  the  cold  masses  of  air 
driven  from  the  N.  against  the  wall  of  the  Alps  are  warmed  by 
the  compression,  so  that  while  northerly  winds  do  cross  the 
Alps,  the  southern  regions  are  protected  by  them  from  intense 
and  sudden  variations  of  temperature.  It  can,  without  difficulty, 
be  turned  at  either  extremity,  whether  by  sea  or  by  comparatively 
easy  routes,  such  as,  on  the  W.,  the  ancient  track  along  the  coast, 
now  known  as  the  Corniche  Road,  from  Genoa  to  Marseilles, 
or  on  the  E.  by  the  route  through  the  Birnbaumer  Wald  (Mons 
Ocra)  from  Laibach  to  Gorz.  As  men  became  bolder,  this 
great  barrier  was  overcome  by  what  are  called  'Passes,'  that 
is,  not  gorges,  as  this  word  once  meant,  but  the  best  marked 
and  lowest  depressions  that  are  to  be  found  in  the  main  chain 
itself.  Various  causes  contributed  to  make  men  prefer  one 
'  Pass '  to  another,  so  that  a  few  of  these  depressions  became 
'  The  Great  Historical  Passes  of  the  Alps,'  and  will  be  considered 
in  Chapter  viii.  below.  Originally  these  passes  could  only  be 
traversed  on  foot  and  at  the  cost  of  great  hardships,  though 
soon  Hospices  for  the  reception  of  wanderers  were  set  up  on 
or  near  their  summits.  Later  on,  these  footpaths  were  improved, 
in  certain  cases,  into  horse  tracks  or  mule  paths,  which,  from 


4      THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  eighteenth  century  onwards  were  often  replaced  by  magnifi- 
cently engineered  carriage  roads.  Nowadays  a  third  stage  has 
been  reached  in  the  matter  of  rendering  the  passage  of  the  Alps 
less  and  less  toilsome  and  perilous.  Instead  of  turning  them 
or  crossing  them,  tunnels  are  pierced  right  through  their  bowels, 
and  so  the  modern  traveller  may,  in  a  comfortable  sleeping-car, 
avoid  even  the  sight  of  the  belles  horreurs  which  caused  his 
predecessors  to  shudder.  Such  tunnels,  in  the  main  chain, 
are  those  through  which  run  the  lines  beneath  the  Col  de  Tenda, 
the  Mont  Cenis  (strictly  17  miles  to  the  W.  of  this  pass),  the 
Simplon,  the  St.  Gotthard,  and  the  Hohe  Tauern,  while  a  few ' 
lines  are  boldly  carried  across  the  passes  themselves  (so  the 
Brenner  and  the  Pontebba),  thus  finally  superseding  footpaths, 
mule  tracks,  or  carriage  roads.  The  most  remarkable  instance 
of  this  modern  development  of  means  of  communication 
throtigh  the  Alps  is  afforded  by  the  magnificent  scheme  (just 
completed)  by  which  a  grand  Alpine  line  has  been  carried  from 
Vienna  to  Trieste  by  means  of  four  tunnels  beneath  the  Pyhrn 
and  Hohe  Tauern  Passes,  and  through  the  Karawankas  and 
Julie  ranges. 

Putting  aside  the  obscure,  though  interesting,  investigation 
of  the  migrations  of  plants  and  animals  across  the  Alps,  let  us 
confine  our  attention  to  the  men  and  women,  who,  not  being 
dwellers  in  the  chain,  desired  to  overcome  it  for  one  or  other 
of  numerous  reasons.  From  Italy  Latin  civilisation  streamed 
over  the  mighty  chain,  in  Roman,  in  Mediaeval,  in  Renaissance 
times,  and  so  brought  the  outer  '  barbarians  '  into  the  pale  first 
of  civilisation,  and  then  of  Christianity,  in  both  cases  more  or 
less  largely  by  force  of  arms,  the  primary  object  being  the 
political  subjection  of  these  outlying  lands.  The  'barbarians' 
once  tamed,  civilised,  and  converted,  streamed  in  their  turn 
over  the  Alps  to  the  rich  and  fascinating  land  of  Italy. 
Sometimes  armies  crossed  in  order  to  seize  on  the  treasures 
of  the  South  and  occupy  its  fertile  plains.  Sometimes 
merchants  brought  over  the  products  of  the  north,  or,  travel- 
ling in  the  reverse  direction,  carried  from  Italy  the  wares 
of  the  East  to  the  hungry  and  comparatively  barren  northern 


WHAT  ARE  'THE  ALPS'?  5 

regions.  Or  again,  students  flocked  over  the  huge  range  to 
saturate  their  minds  with  Latin  Hterature  and  learning:.  But 
perhaps,  till  the  modern  fashion  of  pleasure-travelling  set  in, 
the  largest  contingent  of  Alpine  travellers  coming  from  the 
north  was  formed  by  the  almost  countless  throngs  of  pilgrims, 
of  whatever  class  or  status,  on  their  way  to  the  threshold  of  the 
Apostles,  and  the  centre  of  Latin  Christianity.  Nor  should 
we  forget  the  official  journeys  of  the  mediaeval  Holy  Roman 
Emperors-elect,  on  their  way  to  be  crowned  at  Rome.  What- 
ever the  object  or  character  of  these  various  wanderers  may 
have  been,  the  result  of  their  journeys  was  similar — the  Alps 
were  regarded  no  longer  as  an  impassable  barrier,  but  as  a 
barrier  which  could  and  might  be  passed,  though  at  the  price 
of  many  dangers  and  privations.  The  way  was  thus  opened  for 
'tourists'  and  'climbers.' 

We  have  hitherto  looked  at  the  Alps  as  a  whole,  and  as 
constituting  a  single  great  range.  But  if  we  go  deeper  into 
the  matter  we  shall  find  that  this  great  range  is  not  made  up 
of  a  single  ridge,  as  is  often  shown  on  the  quaint  old  maps. 
There  is  indeed  a  backbone,  but  there  are  also,  as  in  the  case 
of  a  fish,  numerous  lateral  ribs  or  ridges  that  stick  out  at  right 
angles  from  it  and  enclose  between  them  hollows  in  the  shape 
of  valleys  and  glens.  These  valleys  run  up  to  the  central 
backbone,  and  afford  access  to  the  passes,  which  lead  across 
it.  Thus  the  system  of  the  Alps  is  far  more  complicated  than 
might  be  imagined  at  first  sight,  and  this  characteristic  is  grasped 
at  once  by  any  one  who  pays  them  a  visit. 

The  backbone,  or  main  watershed,  is  easily  traced  throughout 
nearly  its  entire  length,  save  that  between  the  Bernina  Pass  and 
the  Reschen  Scheideck  Passes  it  is  rather  ill-defined,  while  far 
away  to  the  E.,  when  it  reaches  the  Dreiherrenspitze,  the  S.W. 
extremity  of  the  Gross  Venediger  group,  we  must  make  our 
choice  between  following  the  lofty  ridge  of  the  Tauern  stretching 
eastwards,  or  else  the  main  watershed  that  runs  southwards 
towards  the  Hadriatic. 

Besides  this  great  backbone,  with  its  projecting  ribs  and 
deep  valleys,   we  find   that   there   are   other   masses,  scarcely 


6      THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

inferior  in  height,  which  rise  on  one  or  other  side  of  the  main 
chain,  and  are  connected  with  it  by  a  kind  of  isthmuses.  Such 
are  the  Alps  of  Dauphine  and  of  the  Bernese  Oberland,  of  the 
Range  of  the  Todi  and  the  chain  bounding  the  Engadine  on 
the  N.,  of  the  lofty  Ortler  group  and  of  the  lower  Limestone  Alps 
of  Bavaria,  the  Vorarlberg,  and  Salzburg,  as  well  as  of  the  en- 
chanted Dolomites  of  the  South  Tyrol.  These  great  side  masses 
are,  as  regards  their  internal  structure,  similar  to  the  main  chain, 
each  possessing  a  main  watershed,  with  side  ridges  that  enclose 
valleys  between  them. 

Hence  we  must  always  bear  in  mind  that  while  the  Alps  form 
a  single  continuous  chain,  there  rise,  N.  and  S.  of  the  principal 
range,  great  mountain  masses,  similar  in  all  respects,  but  not 
forming  independent  islands,  for  they  are  joined  by  side  ridges 
to  the  chief  range,  and  so  form  an  integral  portion  of  it.  Before 
the  present  writer  ever  saw  the  Alps  he  imagined  them  to  himself 
as  forming  one  uninterrupted  chain.  But  after  he  came  to 
explore  them  in  detail  he  could  afford  to  smile  at  the  old  lady 
who,  not  having  seen  them,  believed  that  there  were  but  three 
great  peaks  in  the  Alps,  each  forming  an  island — Mont  Blanc, 
the  Matterhorn,  and  Monte  Rosa — and  so  felt  quite  reassured 
as  to  the  safety  of  her  beloved  son,  who  had  climbed  these  three 
summits,  and,  clearly  therefore,  could  incur  no  further  great 
dangers. 

In  these  pages  we  look  always  at  the  Alps  as  they  now  are, 
that  is,  we  consider  their  topography  as  it  now  stands,  without 
inquiring  either  by  what  processes  the  actual  forms  they  present 
were  carved  out,  or  the  geological  constitution  of  the  rocks  of 
which  they  are  composed.  Such  subjects,  most  interesting  in 
themselves,  belong  to  the  domain  of  Natural  Science,  with  which 
we  do  not  meddle  in  this  work. 

But  we  cannot  grasp  what  the  Alps  really  are  unless  we  try 
to  realise  that  while  the  skeleton  of  the  Alps  is  undoubtedly 
formed  of  rocks,  hard  or  soft,  these  rocks,  particularly  in  the 
case  of  the  loftiest  summits,  are  very  largely  covered  by  fields  of 
eternal  snow  and  ice  or  glaciers  (of  which  more  in  Chapter  in.). 
The  heat  of  the  sun,  especially  in   summer,  melts  a   certain 


WHAT  ARE  'THE  ALPS'?  7 

proportion  of  these  snows,  which  thus  give  rise  to  great  rivers 
or  minor  streams.  These  torrents  have  carved  out  the  valleys 
through  which  they  flow  downwards.  All  the  great  Alpine 
rivers  (save  apparently  the  Drave  and  the  Piave,  and  in  a  sense 
the  Inn,  the  Adda  and  the  Adige)  have  their  origin  in  these 
eternal  snows — the  Durance,  the  Isere,  the  Rhone,  the  Aar, 
the  Reuss,  the  Rhine,  and  the  Linth,  are  all  on  the  non-Italian 
slope  of  the  Alps  ;  while  on  the  Italian  slope  we  have  the  Po, 
the  Tosa,  the  Ticino,  and  the  Oglio.  Sometimes  these  great 
rivers  (like  minor  streams)  form  small  lakes  on  their  way,  where 
their  bed  widens  out  into  a  hollow.  Several,  after  their  rapid 
descent  from  the  snow  region,  form  much  larger  lakes  at  the 
points  where  they  reach  the  level  country ;  such  is  the  origin 
of  the  Lakes  of  Geneva,  of  Thun,  of  Brienz,  of  Lucerne,  of 
Constance,  as  well  as  the  Lago  Maggiore,  and  the  sheets 
of  water  known  as  the  Lakes  of  Lugano,  of  Como,  of  Iseo, 
and  of  Garda. 

Of  these  huge  masses  of  water  those  rising  on  the  Italian 
slope  of  the  Alps  lose  themselves  for  the  most  part  in  the 
Mediterranean,  either  through  the  Gulf  of  Genoa,  or  through 
the  Hadriatic  Sea.  But  the  rivers  at  the  eastern  extremity  of 
the  Alps  are  diverted  by  a  series  of  low  hills  towards  the 
Danube  (a  non-Alpine  river),  which  also  receives  the  Inn, 
though  this  rises  on  the  non-Italian  slope  of  the  Alps.  With 
the  exception  of  the  Rhone  (flowing  to  the  Mediterranean)  and 
of  the  Danube  (which  falls  into  the  Black  Sea)  the  other  rivers 
rising  on  the  non-Italian  slope  of  the  Alps  find  their  way 
ultimately  to  the  North  Sea.  Those  who  like  oddities  may 
care  to  know  that  there  are  at  least  two  summits  in  the  Alps 
which  send  their  waters  to  each  of  these  three  seas.  So  the 
waters  flowing  from  the  Wyttenwasserstock  (the  lower  peak, 
9922  ft.)  in  the  Lepontine  Alps,  help  to  swell  the  Mediterranean, 
the  HadriatiC;,  and  the  North  Sea,  while  Pizzo  Lunghino 
(91 2 1  ft.),  N.W.  of  the  Maloja  Pass,  sends  streams  to  the 
Hadriatic,  the  North  Sea,  and  the  Black  Sea. 

Having  thus  obtained  a  general  idea  of  what  '  the  Alps ' 
really  are  in  the  most  usually  accepted  sense  of  that  term,  let 


8       THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

us  now  briefly  fix  the  limits  by  which  they  are  marked  off 
from  the  Apennines  on  one  side,  and  the  hills  that  stretch 
towards  the  borders  of  Hungary  on  the  other,  reserving  a 
detailed  examination  of  the  internal  structure  of  the  great 
chain  for  Chapter  xiii.  To  settle  this  question  we  must  make 
up  our  mind  as  to  the  precise  meaning  we  attach  to  the 
name  '  Alps.'  Are  we  to  use  it  to  signify  the  whole  of  the 
great  range,  that,  stretching  roughly  from  Genoa  to  Trieste, 
joins  the  Apennines  to  the  outliers  of  the  Carpathians?  In 
this  case  our  limits  will  be,  on  the  W.,  the  Col  di  Cadibona  or 
d'Altare  (1624  ft.),  between  Turin  and  Savona,  near  Genoa, 
and  on  the  E.,  the  Semmering  Pass  (3215  ft.),  that  leads  from 
Vienna  past  Marburg  and  Laibach  to  Trieste.  But  much  of 
the  region  thus  included  is  snowless  and  below  any  possible 
snow-line,  however  varying. 

Now,  as  Mr.  John  Ball,  that  great  authority  on  the  Alps, 
pointed  out  long  ago,  in  common  parlance  that  portion  of 
the  great  mountain  chain  is  'Alpine'  in  character,  where  the 
height  of  the  mountains  is  sufficient  to  maintain  considerable 
masses  of  perpetual  snow.  In  short,  '  the  Alps '  are  the  snowy 
and  loftier  part  of  the  range,  though  of  course  all  their  summits 
do  not  bear  snow,  some  of  the  highest  being  rocky  even  at  the 
top,  while  others  are  snowy,  though  of  comparatively  moderate 
height,  rising  on  side  ridges.  In  these  pages  the  term  '  Alps ' 
is  employed  always  in  the  sense  of  the  High  or  snowy  Alps. 
If  we  accept  this  definition,  our  limits  will  be  on  the  W. 
extremity  the  Col  de  Tenda  (6145  ft.),  leading  from  Cuneo 
to  Ventimiglia,  or  by  a  more  devious  route,  across  two  lower 
passes  to  Nice,  while  on  the  E.  it  will  be  the  long-frequented 
route  over  the  Radstadter  Tauern  (5702  ft.),  leading  from  the 
Enns  valley  to  the  Mur  valley,  and  then  over  the  Katschberg 
(5384  ft.)  to  the  Drave  valley.  The  principal  pass  is  gained 
on  the  N.  either  by  the  Pyhrn  Pass  (3100  ft.),  leading  from 
Vienna  past  Linz  to  Liezen  in  the  Enns  valley,  or  through 
the  Lueg  gorge  direct  from  Salzburg.  But  the  natural  con- 
tinuation of  the  Radstadter  Tauern  to  the  S.,  over  the  Predil 
or  Pontebba    Passes,   would    exclude  from  the  Alps   all   their 


WHAT  ARE  'THE  ALPS'?  9 

South-Eastern  group.  So  from  Villach  in  the  Drave  valley 
we  must  take  a  great  sweep  to  the  E.  and  S.E.  past  Klagenfurt 
and  down  the  Drave  valley  to  Marburg,  and  thence  back  along 
the  last  bit  of  the  Semmering  Railway  past  Cilli  and  Laibach 
to  Trieste. 

Let  us  now  sum  up  the  answer  to  the  question  we  pro- 
pounded at  the  head  of  this  chapter.  'The  Alps'  are  the 
higher  or  snowy  portion  of  the  great  mountain  range  that 
shelters  Italy  from  the  outer  world,  and  is  crossed  by  a  number 
of  passes.  This  range  is  limited  by  the  Col  de  Tenda  (W.)  and 
the  Radstiidter  Tauern  (E.),  while  it  is  composed  of  a  main  water- 
shed and  other  half-isolated  groups,  all,  like  the  main  ridge,  send- 
ing out  side  ridges,  that  enclose  valleys,  down  which  rush  the 
torrents  (produced  by  the  melting  of  the  snows)  many  of  which 
spread  themselves  out  into  great  lakes  as  they  reach  the  plains, 
and  before  they  fall  into  one  or  the  other  sea. 


CHAPTER  II 

THE    PASTURES    OF    THE    ALPS 

IN  any  of  the  higher  Alpine  valleys  we  notice  at  once,  above 
the  belt  of  forest  that  shelters  the  scattered  homesteads  in 
and  round  the  village,  a  succession  of  grassy  slopes  which  mount 
towards  the  region  of  eternal  snow.  These  slopes  are  named 
'  Alps '  by  the  mountain  dwellers,  and  are  used  as  summer 
pastures  by  them  for  their  cattle,  which  otherwise  could  not 
subsist  on  the  fodder  obtained  on  the  lower  meadows,  this 
being  quite  insufficient  for  their  needs  during  the  long  winter. 
Nowadays  the  lowest  bit  of  these  pastures  has  often  passed 
into  private  ownership  (each  bit  is  called  a  'Vorsass,'  or 
'Voralp,'  or  'Mayen'),  and  is  used  for  grazing  the  cattle  of 
the  owner  in  spring  and  autumn,  while  the  hay  mown  there 
in  summer  is  reserved  for  their  winter  needs.  But  the  rest 
of  these  Alpine  pastures  is  exclusively  devoted  to  the  pasturing 
of  cattle  in  summer,  the  higher  portions  being  specially  given 
over  to  goats  and  sheep,  while  the  cows,  as  the  most  important 
item,  occupy  the  middle  and  most  productive  stretches.  These 
bear  different  names  in  different  portions  of  the  chain  of  the 
Alps,  in  which  they  are  found  everywhere — in  the  German- 
speaking  regions  the  term  used  is  'Alp'  or  'Berg,'  the  form 
'  Aim '  being  characteristic  of  the  Tyrol ;  in  the  French-speaking 
districts,  'alpe'  and  'montagne'  are  the  ordinary  names,  while 
'  alpe '  or  '  monte '  are  the  names  found  in  the  Italian-speaking 
regions.  Probably  these  summer  pastures  date  back  to  the 
first  settlements  in  the  Alpine  valleys.  The  earhest  instances 
known  to  the  present  writer  are  the  'Alpes  in  Cenisio'  (the 
pastures  on  the  plain  of  the  Mont  Cenis  Pass)  mentioned  in 

10 


THE  PASTURES  OF  THE  ALPS  n 

739  ;  the  Sambtiser  Alp  on  the  Santis,  in  Appenzell,  heard 
of  in  868  j  and  the  Macugnaga  Alp,  at  the  head  of  the  Val 
Anzasca,  which  in  999  was  the  subject  of  an  exchange  between 
the  Archbishop  of  Milan  and  the  monks  of  Arona.  Sometimes, 
as  in  the  Dauphine  and  the  Engadine,  the  sheep  pastures  are 
let  out  to  shepherds  from  Provence  or  the  Bergamasque  valleys 
respectively.  In  other  cases  the  pastures  in  a  mountain  valley 
have  been  alienated  to  far-distant  villages  (this  is  not  unfrequent 
in  some  parts  of  the  Tyrol,  while  in  Switzerland  the  Oberaar 
Alp,  near  the  Grimsel,  belongs  to  the  village  of  Torbel,  above 
Stalden,  on  the  Zermatt  railway).  A  few  are  in  the  hands 
of  great  monasteries  {e.g.  Engelberg  and  Einsiedeln)  or  of  the 
State,  while  others  belong  to  private  individuals  or  societies. 
But,  speaking  generally,  we  may  say  that,  as  a  rule,  the  high- 
land summer  pastures  in  an  Alpine  valley  belong  to  the  in- 
habitants of  that  valley. 

In  certain  cases  the  men  of  one  valley  have  encroached  on 
the  pastures  of  their  neighbours,  and  have  appropriated  them, 
though  not  included  within  the  limits  of  their  own  proper 
district.  This  dislocation,  no  doubt,  goes  far  back  in  point  of 
date,  and  was  in  each  case  the  result  of  a  struggle  between 
rival  herdsmen.  We  can  trace  a  struggle  of  this  kind  best 
in  the  valley  of  Engelberg,  where  the  Blacken  Alp,  at  the  very 
head  of  the  glen,  has  never  belonged  to  the  monastery,  but  to 
Attinghausen  in  Uri  (opposite  Altdorf) ;  while  the  pastures  of 
the  Nieder  Surenen  Alp  below  it  were  also  secured  by  the 
men  of  the  same  village  after  a  long  drawn-out  contest  with 
the  monks  that  lasted  from  1273  to  15 13.  The  Uri  men, 
restless  perhaps  within  the  narrow  limits  to  which  Nature  has 
confined  them,  still  own  other  pastures  that  topographically 
lie  in  other  regions — so  the  men  of  Spiringen,  above  Altdorf, 
enjoy  the  splendid  pastures  (said  to  be  the  finest  in  Switzer- 
land) of  the  Urnerboden,  on  the  Glarus  side  of  the  Klausen 
Pass,  above  Altdorf,  though  the  men  of  Tessin  have  succeeded 
in  keeping  hold  of  the  pastures  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  St.  Gott- 
hard,  those  between  the  pass  and  Hospenthal.  Other  cases  of 
a  similar  kind  are  the  pastures  on  the  Meiringen  side  of  the  Great 


12     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Scheidegg,  which  (nearly  down  to  Rosenlaui)  belong  to  Grindel- 
wald,  and  those  on  the  N.  side  of  the  Gemmi  (including  the 
Schwarenbach  inn)  are  held  by  Leukerbad,  in  the  Vallais, 
while  the  case  of  the  Oberaar  Alp  has  been  mentioned  above. 
So  again  the  Fenga  or  Fimber  Alp,  on  the  proper  Tyrolese 
side  of  the  chain,  is  reckoned  as  Swiss,  and  has  for  ages 
belonged  to  Remiis  and  Sent,  both  in  the  Lower  Engadine ; 
while  the  Gross  Fermunt  pastures  at  the  head  of  the  Vorarl- 
berg  glen  of  Montafon  belong  to  Ardez,  also  in  the  Lower 
Engadine. 

It  is  reckoned  that  in  Switzerland  (where  special  attention 
is  paid  to  the  subject)  there  are  about  4478  'Alps '  at  present, 
of  an  estimated  capital  value  of  rather  over  ;^3, 000,000,  and 
capable  of  supporting  some  270,389  cattle  in  summer.  There 
may,  of  course,  be  more  than  one  '  Alp '  in  any  given  valley ;  e.g. 
in  that  of  Grindelwald  there  are  seven. 

These  summer  pastures  are  only  grazed  for  about  three  months 
annually,  the  cattle  going  up  thither  towards  the  middle  or  end 
of  June,  and  coming  down  about  the  end  of  September.  But 
during  this  time  the  beasts  do  not  always  remain  on  the  same 
portion  of  the  pasture.  On  every  '  Alp  '  there  are  generally  two 
or  three  (or  even  four)  sets  of  huts,  situated  respectively  on  the 
two,  or  three,  or  four  horizontal  strips  of  pasture  (each  called  a 
'  Staffel ')  into  which  that  '  Alp  '  is  divided  by  a  wooden  hedge. 
The  cattle  start  in  June  on  the  lowest  strip,  work  gradually 
upwards  to  the  highest  (where  they  spend  three  weeks  or  so  in 
July  and  August),  halt  for  some  time  on  the  way  down  at  the 
middle  set  of  huts,  and  finish  the  summer  at  the  lowest  set  of  all. 
The  milk  given  by  each  cow  is  (unless  it  is  specially  fetched 
by  the  owner  of  that  cow)  measured  daily,  and  at  the  end  of  the 
season  the  owner  of  each  cow  has  the  right  to  receive  an  amount 
of  cheese  corresponding  to  the  milk  given  by  that  cow,  after 
deducting  the  allowance  of  cheese,  milk,  etc.,  which  the  cheese- 
maker  (the  '  Senn  '  or  '  fruitier ')  and  his  men  are  entitled  to 
receive,  as  part  of  their  wages.  The  cheeses  are  made  daily,  and 
are  kept  in  small  huts  (called  '  Speicher '),  with  short  stone  legs, 
which  are  easily  to  be  distinguished  on  each  '  Alp '  from  those 


THE  PASTURES  OF  THE  ALPS  13 

wherein  the  herdsmen  sleep  (each  of  these  is  a  '  chalet '  properly 
so  called),  or  from  the  stables  used  in  case  of  bad  weather  or  on 
exceptional  occasions. 

There  is  an  obvious  danger,  at  any  rate  in  the  case  of  pastures 
not  owned  by  private  individuals,  that  more  cows  will  be  sent  up 
annually  than  the  particular  pasture  in  question  can  support 
without  permanent  damage.  Hence  an  official  estimate  is  made, 
from  time  to  time,  sometimes  at  very  long  intervals,  of  the  proper 
number  of  cows  that  should  be  sent  up.  The  amount  of  pasture 
required  to  support  a  single  cow  for  the  summer  is  technically 
termed  a  '  Kuhstoss,'  or  '  cow's  portion/  which  is  reckoned 
to  suffice  for  two  heifers,  three  calves  or  sheep,  four  pigs, 
or  eight  goats  (the  numbers  vary  on  different  '  Alps '),  in  case 
any  one  entitled  to  send  up  a  cow  prefers  to  graze  in  a  particular 
summer  any  of  the  animals  just  named. 

Speaking  quite  generally  (for  customs  and  regulations  differ 
widely  even  in  the  same  region),  it  may  be  said  that  the  persons 
entitled  to  rights  of  pasture  must  be  burghers  of  the  village  to 
which  the  particular  pasture  belongs.  Sometimes  they  may  let 
out  their  right  ('  Kuhrecht')  for  the  summer,  or  may  exchange  it 
for  rights  on  some  other  '  Alp,'  so  that  the  '  Besetzerschaft ' 
(occupiers)  of  an  '  Alp '  in  any  given  summer  are  not  necessarily 
identical  with  the  '  Besitzerschaft '  (the  owners  of  the  rights  of 
pasture).  These  rights  of  pasture  belong,  as  stated  above,  to 
the  burghers  of  that  particular  village  or  'commune,'  but  not 
necessarily  to  all  burghers,  for  in  some  cases  they  are  attached 
to  the  possession  of  a  particular  bit  of  land'(entered  in  an  official 
Register),  with  which  the  right  passes  when  the  land  is  sold, 
though  in  other  cases  the  rights  belong  to  each  male  burgher 
of  full  age,  as  an  individual,  and  not  as  a  land-owner.  In 
this  way  no  burgher  can  keep  more  cattle  in  winter  than  he 
has  a  right  to  pasture  on  the  'Alp'  of  his  village  in  summer, 
unless  (what  such  men  are  generally  shy  of  doing,  partly 
through  limited  means)  he  buys  hay  for  the  extra  cattle, 
or  owns  meadow-land  enough  to  support  them,  without  need- 
ing to  utilise  the  summer  pastures,  or  leases  '  cow-rights '  from 
others. 


14    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Thus  it  will  be  seen  that  as  cattle  form  the  main  riches  of 
every  Alpine  valley  and  village,  the  summer  pastures  are  to  that 
valley  or  village  and  its  inhabitants  the  pivot  on  which  the  whole 
life  of  the  people  turns.  No  pastures,  no  cattle ;  few  pastures, 
few  cattle. 


, 


2^      f- 

•■■<  3 

3    < 

'J: 


CHAPTER  III 

THE    SNOWY    REGION    OF    THE    ALPS 

GIBBON  tells  us  in  his  Autobiography  that  about  1783  'the 
fashion  of  viewing  the  mountains  and  Glaciers '  had 
attracted  to  his  loved  retreat  at  Lausanne  many  foreign  visitors 
on  their  way  to  wonder  at  these  marvels.  He  was  thinking,  no 
doubt,  more  especially  of  the  glaciers  of  the  valley  of  Chamonix. 
But  in  any  case  his  remark  proves  that  the  snowy  region  of  the 
Alps  no  longer  inspired  dread  and  awe,  but  rather  a  fearful 
curiosity  to  see  with  one's  own  eyes  the  most  extensive  tract  of 
eternal  snow  to  be  found  in  Europe,  that  which  covered  the 
loftiest  summits  of  the  Alps.  This  new  fashion,  among  other 
results,  helped  to  familiarise  the  dwellers  in  the  plains  with  the 
wonders  of  the  ice-world,  and  so  to  give  them  a  juster  idea  of  what 
this  frozen  world  really  was.  Now  this  was  a  result  much  to  be 
desired,  for  the  older  writers  held  some  very  quaint  notions  on 
the  subject.  Pliny,  Seneca,  St.  Augustine  of  Hippo,  and 
Claudian  all  believed  that  a  crystal  was  simply  very  hard  frozen 
ice.  This  strange  view,  combated  already  by  Solinus,  was  still 
held  by  certain  persons  in  the  sixteenth  century,  says  Josias 
Simler  (i 530-1576),  who  is  doubtful  on  the  point,  though  his 
contemporaries,  Sebastian  Miinster  (1489-1552)  and  Johannes 
Stumpf  (i 500-1 566),  were  quite  sure  that  crystals  were  really 
stones ;  these  (they  held),  though  often  found  in  the  Alps,  had 
nothing  to  do  with  ice,  which,  however,  they  resembled  closely 
as  to  brilliance  and  purity.  Another  delusion  on  the  part  of 
the  older  writers  was  that  the  snowy  region  of  the  Alps  con- 
stituted the  one  vast  sea  of  ice,  hardly,  if  ever,  interrupted  at  any 
point  whatsoever.     Hence,  when  it  was  absolutely  necessary  to 

15 


i6    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

force  a  way  across  this  frozen  ocean,  the  point  at  which  this  was 
done  was  called  simply  'the  Glacier.'  This  name  was  especi- 
ally applied  to  the  St.  Theodule  Pass  (leading  from  Zermatt  to 
the  valley  of  Aosta),  whether  under  the  name  '  Der  Gletscher ' 
by  Giles  Tschudi  (1505-15 7 2),  who  himself  actually  crossed 
it  about  1528,  as  well  as  by  Miinster  and  Stumpf,  or  under  that 
of  '  Rosa '  by  Simler ;  the  last-named  writer  here  translates  the 
German  term  by  a  word  borrowed  from  the  patois  of  the  valley 
of  Aosta,  meaning  a  '  glacier '  and  variously  written  '  roisa,' 
'roesa,'  'ruise,'  or  'reuse,'  and  undoubtedly  the  original  of  the 
name  Monte  Rosa,  which  is  the  culminating  point  of  that  great 
Sea  of  Ice.  Now  at  first  sight,  if  we  look  upwards  from  a  valley, 
we  are  strongly  inclined  to  believe  in  this  Sea  of  Ice,  not  merely 
because  of  its  superficial  resemblance  to  the  sea  of  water,  but 
because  from  this  frozen  ocean,  hidden  in  mysterious  retreats, 
and  lifted  high  above  the  workaday  world,  there  flow  down  into 
the  valley  great  streams  of  ice,  which  resemble  rivers,  though 
flowing  from  and  not  into  the  icy  waste.  It  is  only  when  we 
come  to  explore  ourselves  the  snowy  region  that  we  grasp  the 
fact  that  the  Sea  of  Ice  is  by  no  means  unbroken,  but  forms  a 
series  of  minor  seas,  separated,  now  at  any  rate,  from  each 
other  by  extensive  snowless  tracts  of  ground.  Yet,  from  the 
historical,  or  rather  prehistoric,  point  of  view,  this  theory  of  a 
Sea  of  Ice  has  an  element  of  truth  in  it,  for  do  not  scientific 
men  now  impress  upon  us  the  fact  that  once,  in  the  Ice  Age,  the 
whole  of  Europe  was  really  an  unbroken  Sea  of  Ice,  though, 
owing  to  the  retreat  of  the  ice,  this  sea  is  now  confined  to  the 
highest  portions  of  the  Alpine  chain? 

Alpine  glaciers  form  such  a  striking  feature  of  the  scenery  of 
a  high  mountain  valley  that  they  could  not  possibly  be  over- 
looked, for  they  formed  such  immovable  boundaries.  It  is 
possible  that  the  '  rupes  alba'  of  the  charter  of  1091  founding 
the  Benedictine  Priory  of  Chamonix  refers  to  some  real  '  white 
rock,'  and  not  (as  the  present  writer  firmly  believes)  to  the 
glittering  snows  of  Mont  Blanc.  But  a  Uttle  later,  even  if  we 
put  on  one  side  two  documents,  said  to  be  forged,  and  dated 
1146  and  1 173,  we  have  certain  mention  of  the  glaciers  of  Grind- 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       17 

ehvald  in  1220,  in  1246,  in  1247,  and  in  1252,  in  each  case  as 
one  of  the  hmits  of  a  piece  of  land.  In  1353  we  hear  of  the 
'mountains  called  Glaciers,  in  German  Gletscher,'  which  extend 
at  the  head  of  the  Simmenthal,  In  the  sixteenth  century  the 
three  Swiss  topographical  writers  already  named,  Miinster  (1544), 
Stumpf  (1548),  and  Simler  (1574),  as  well  as  Ulrich  Campell 
(about  1573),  give  long  accounts  of  glaciers,  but  apparently 
always  at  second  hand.  Campell  naturally  dwells  on  those  in 
the  Lower  Engadine  (he  was  a  native  of  Siis),  but  the  others  all 
base  their  descriptions  on  the  two  Grindelwald  glaciers.  These, 
in  fact,  were  so  well  seen  (alas,  they  have  greatly  shrunk  since 
those  days  !)  from  a  very  accessible  valley,  that  they  are  generally 
taken  as  the  type  of  glaciers,  as  we  see  from  the  writings  of 
Thomas  Schopf  (1577),  H.  R.  Rebmann  (1606),  Matthew  Merian 
(1642),  J.  J.  Wagner  (1680),  J.  H.  Hottinger  (1706),  J.  J. 
Scheuchzer  (1723),  and  A.  von  Haller  (1732),  for  it  is  not  till 
the  time  of  J.  G.  Altmann  (1751)  and  of  G.  S.  Gruner  (1760) 
that  we  find  detailed  descriptions  of  glaciers  elsewhere  in  the 
Alps.  Merian  first,  as  far  as  the  present  writer  is  aware,  gives 
(1642)  an  engraving  of  these  glaciers  (probably  the  first  ever  to 
be  so  figured),  and  his  plate  long  served  as  the  typical  representa- 
tion of  these  marvellous  natural  phenomena.  It  was  most  likely 
the  source  of  the  quaint  illustration  that  accompanies  the  second 
earliest  (1673-4)  account  of  glaciers  (always  those  of  Grindel- 
wald) which  was  published  in  English.  As  those  early  English 
accounts  are  very  little  known,  save  to  a  few  students,  we 
venture  to  transcribe  them  for  the  benefit  of  our  readers;  all 
three  appeared  in  the  Fhilosophical  Transactions  of  the  Royal 
Society. 

I.  Phil.  Trans.,  No.  49,  pp.  982-3,  June  21,  1669. 

Extract  of  a  Letter,  Written  by  Mr.  Muraltus  [Johannes  von  M., 
1645-1733]  ^/Zurich  to  M.  Haak  [Theodore  Haak,  1605-1690, 
an  original  member  of  the  Royal  Society,  1663],  a  Fellow  of 
the  R.  Society,  concerning  the  Icy  a?td  Chrysiallin  Mountains 
(?/■  Helvetia,  calPd  the  Gletscher.  English' d  out  of  Latin  by  the 
Publisher,  as  follows  : — 
The  highest  Icy  Mountains  oi Helvetia  dihovX  Valesia  ax^^  Augusta 
B 


i8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

[the  Vallais  and  Aosta,  here  wrongly  placed]  in  the  canton  of  Bern  ; 
about  Taminium  [Tamins  in  the  Grisons]  and  Tavetsch  [Sedrun], 
of  the  Rhaetians,  are  alwayes  seen  cover'd  with  Snow.  The  Snow, 
melted  by  the  heat  of  the  Summer,  other  Snow  being  fain  within 
a  little  while  after,  is  hardned  into  Ice,  which  by  little  and  little  in 
a  long  tract  of  time  depurating  it-self  turns  into  a  Stone,  not  yeilding 
in  hardness  &  clearness  to  Chrystall.  Such  Stones  closely  Joyned 
and  compacted  together  compose  a  whole  Mountain,  and  that  a  very 
firm  one  ;  though  in  Summer-time  the  Country-people  have  observed 
it  to  burst  asunder  with  great  cracking,  Thunder-like  ;  which  is  also 
known  to  Hunters  to  their  great  cost,  forasmuch  as  such  cracks 
and  openings,  being  by  the  Winds  covered  with  Snow,  are  the 
death  of  those,  that  pass  over  them. 

At  the  foot  of  these  mountains  are  with  great  labour  digg'd  out 
Chrystals,  which  are  found  among  other  fossils,  of  two  sorts  and 
colors  ;  some  of  them  are  darkish  and  troubled,  which  by  some 
are  call'd  the  Chrystal-ore,  to  be  plenteously  found  in  the  ascent  of 
Mount  Gotthard;  others,  transparent,  very  pure  and  clear  as  Venice- 
glass  ;  sexangular,  great  and  small :  as  in  the  mountains  about 
Valesia,  and  the  town  call'd  Ursden  [Andermatt  in  the  Ursern  valley, 
and  near  the  foot  of  the  ascent  to  the  St.  Gotthard  Pass]  at  the  foot 
of  the  Hill  Schelenin  [SchoUenen  gorge]  they  are  digg'd  out  and 
sold  at  a  good  rate.  Of  this  latter  kind,  my  Parents,  four  years 
agoe,  transmitted  a  very  bigg  and  fair  one  to  Milan  for  80  pound 
sterling. 

This  is,  what  I  have  observed  about  these  Hills  ;  What  I  shall 
farther  learn  of  the  people,  inhabiting  thereabout,  to  whom  I  have 
written  a  month  since,  I  shall  impart  to  you. 

In  September  1668. 

2.  Phil.  Trans.,  No.  100,  pp.  6191-2,  February  9,  1673-4, 

A  farther  Description   attd  Representation   of  the  ley  Mountain, 
called  the  Gletscher,  i7i  the  canton  ^t/"  Berne  in  Helvetia  ;  which 
was  formerly  takett  ftotice  of  in  Numb.  49  of  these  Tracts. 
This  account  was  imparted  to  us  from  Paris  by  that  worthy  and 
obliging  person.  Monsieur y/iJj/^'/  [Henri  Justel,  1620-1693,  Superin- 
tendent of  the  Royal  Library,  St.  James'  Palace,  London],  who  had 
received  it  from  a  trusty  hand  living  upon  the  place,  as  follows  ;  The 
Icy  Mountain,  of  which  I  have  sent  you  the  Scheme  {See  Tab.  2)  de- 
serves to  be  view'd.     The  letter  A  signifies  the  Mountain  it  self  [the 
Lower  Grindelwald  glacier],  which  is  very  high,  and  extends  it  self 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       19 

every  year  more  and  more  over  the  neighbouring  meadows,  by  incre- 
ments that  make  a  great  noise  and  cracking.  There  are  great  holes 
and  caverns,  which  are  made  when  the  Ice  bursts  ;  which  happens  at 
all  times,  but  especially  in  the  Dog-days.  Hunters  do  there  hang  up 
their  game  they  take  during  the  great  heat,  to  make  it  keep  sweet 
by  that  means.  Very  little  of  the  surface  melts  in  Summer,  and 
all  freezeth  again  in  the  night.  When  the  Sun  shineth,  there  is  seen 
such  a  variety  of  colors  as  in  a  Prism. 

B.  is  a  rivolet  [the  Liitschine],  issuing  forth  from  under  the  Ice, 
which  is  pretty  deep  and  extremely  cold. 

C.  are  the  Hutts,  that  were  built  at  the  beginning,  at  a  consider- 
able distance  from  the  Mountain  ;  but  at  present  they  are  nigh  to 
it  by  reason  of  the  continued  increase  which  this  Ice  maketh. 

There  is  such  an  other  Mountain  near  Gefteva  [the  chain  of  Mont 
Blanc]  and  upon  the  Alpes  [that  is,  the  main  ridge  of  the  Alps].  A 
certain  Capucin  told  me,  he  had  been  upon  the  highest  of  these 
mountains  with  a  Trader  in  Crystal,  who  having  driven  his  hammer 
into  one  of  these  Rocks,  and  found  it  hollow  and  resonant,  made  a 
hole  into  it,  and  thence  drew  out  a  substance  like  Talk ;  which  to 
him  was  a  sign  there  was  Crystal.  After  which  he  made  a  great 
hole  with  Gunpowder,  and  found  Rock-crystal  in  it. 

3.  Fhil.  Trans.,  No.  320,  pp.  316-17,  March  and  April,  1709. 

Part  of  a  Letter  from  William  Burnet,  Esq.  ;  F.R.S.  [son  of  the  cele- 
brated bishop,  Gilbert  Burnet],  to  Dr.  Hans  Sloane,  R.S.  Seer., 
concerning  the  Icy  Mountains  of  Switzerland. 

Geneva,  October  12,  170S. 
Sir, — After  I  had  been  at  Zurich  I  resolved  to  go  my  self  and 
see  the  Mountains  of  Ice  in  Switzerland.  Accordingly  I  went  to 
the  Gritidlcwald,  a  Mountain  two  Days  journey  from  Bern.  There 
I  saw,  between  two  Mountains,  like  a  River  of  Ice,  which  divides  it 
self  in  two  Branches,  and  in  its  way  from  the  Top  of  the  Mountains 
to  the  bottom  swells  in  vast  Heaps,  some  bigger  than  St.  Paul's 
church.  The  Original  of  which  seems  to  have  been  this.  These 
Mountains  are  covered  all  the  Year  with  Snow  on  their  Tops  ;  this 
Snow  has  been  melted  in  the  Summer,  and  has  fallen  to  the  Bottom 
where  the  sun  never  reaches  :  There  it  has  Frozen,  which  every 
Body  knows  happens  more  easily  to  melted  Snow  than  ordinary 
Water.  Thus  every  Year  it  has  increased,  till  it  has  touched  the 
very  Top.  The  reason  why  the  Water  has  always  frozen,  tho'  the 
Sun  in  the  middle  of  the  Mountain,  and  higher,  shines  upon  it  some 


20    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

part  of  the  Day,  is  that  the  melted  Water  goes  under  the  Ice 
already  formed  and  there  Freezes,  and  so  expanding  it  self  raises 
the  Ice  above  it,  and  sometimes  makes  Cracks  in  it,  that  frighten 
the  whole  Neighbourhood  :  The  reason  appears  plainly,  because 
the  upper  Surface  being  solid,  cannot  be  dilated  without  making 
great  Chinks,  and  that  with  a  terrible  noise.  They  told  me,  upon 
the  Place,  that  every  seven  Years  the  Mountain  increases,  and  the 
next  seven  decreases  ;  but  I  doubt  their  Observation  is  not  exact, 
and  I  suspect  that  they  say  it,  to  seem  to  know  something  singular. 
Besides  there  are  none  there  that  have  themselves  observed  it  long 
enough,  to  affirm  any  thing  of  that  kind  certainly.  If  there  is  any 
ground  in  that  Observation,  it  seems  to  be,  that  in  the  hottest 
Summers  it  increases,  and  the  more  moderate  ones  it  decreases, 
there  being  then  less  melted  Snow  ;  in  which  case  it  is  at  present, 
as  we  know  of  late  the  Summers  have  been  moderate  (see  Philosoph, 
Transact.,  Numb.  49  and  100). 

Half  a  century  or  so  after  these  last  words  were  written  the 
exploration  of  glaciers  and  the  snowy  region  of  the  Alps 
in  general  was  taken  in  hand,  as  we  shall  see  in  Chapter  ix. 
below.  Still  later  their  true  nature  and  principal  characteristics 
were  ascertained  by  a  long-continued  series  of  personal  investi- 
gations, carried  out  by  a  number  of  well-trained  men,  who 
personally  studied  the  puzzling  phenomena  on  the  ice-fields 
themselves. 

Let  us  therefore  sum  up  briefly  the  chief  well-established 
results  which  have  been  the  consequence  of  these  careful 
investigations. 

The  snowy  region  of  the  Alps  naturally  means  that  portion 
of  the  Alpine  chain  which  is  covered  with  '  perpetual  snow.' 
But  the  line  of  distinction  between  the  snowless  and  the  snowy 
regions  is  not  a  hard-and-fast  line.  Ideally  the  '  snow-line '  is 
the  point  at  which  the  amount  of  snow  that  melts  annually 
exactly  equals  the  amount  that  has  fallen.  But  in  any  district 
of  the  Alps,  even  in  any  single  Alpine  valley,  this  ideal  limit 
varies  according  to  the  exposure  of  a  slope  to  the  rays  of 
the  sun,  to  the  various  winds,  to  the  geological  nature  of  the 
mountain,  etc.,  and  is  not  determined  once  for  all  by  the  mere 
elevation   above   the   sea-level.     Such   local  variations  can   be 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       21 

well  seen  when  the  weather  has  cleared  after  a  snow-fall  in 
some  Alpine  valley  in  summer  or  early  autumn.  When  the 
clouds  lift,  the  line  right  round  the  valley  is  as  even  as  if 
carved  with  a  sharp  knife.  But  as  soon  as  the  clouds  vanish, 
the  snow  melts  more  rapidly  in  one  spot  than  in  another,  and 
the  line,  before  so  even,  becomes  extraordinarily  uneven  and 
irregular,  as  if  cut  away  by  a  huge  jagged  knife. 

Abandoning  therefore  any  attempt  to  fix  with  scientific  pre- 
cision the  snow-line  in  any  given  case,  it  is,  of  course,  certain 
that  high  up  (to  use  a  rather  vague  phrase)  there  is  always  snow 
lying  on  the  mountains,  though  the  amount  varies  even  here 
from  day  to  day.  Lower  down  this  precipitation  takes  the 
form  of  rain,  but  high  up  it  becomes  snow  owing  to  the  fall 
in  the  temperature  of  the  air  as  one  ascends  the  mountain 
slopes.  But  snow  does  not  constitute  a  glacier.  Glacier  ice 
has  indeed  once  been  snow,  but  it  has  passed  through  the 
intermediate  stage  of  '  neve '  or  '  Firn '  before  becoming  ice. 
Hence  we  must  distinguish  carefully  between  snow,  neve,  and  ice, 
though  all  three  are  different  forms  of  water. 

The  s?iozv  that  falls  high  up  on  the  mountain  slopes  is  dry, 
loose,  fine,  and  granular.  Some  of  it  melts,  while  some  is 
carried  away  by  strong  winds  and  then  forms  the  '  tourmentes ' 
or  'Guxen,' those  storms  which  are  the  dread  of  the  mountain 
dweller  or  mountain  climber,  just  as  are  the  sand-storms  in 
the  desert  to  the  inhabitants  of  such  regions.  But  a  certain 
proportion  of  the  snow  that  falls  in  winter  remains  on  the 
mountains,  whether  in  hollows,  or  on  slopes  whence  it  is  brought 
down  to  those  hollows  by  what  are  called  '  avalanches.'  Such 
is  the  first  stage. 

Gradually  the  heat  of  the  sun's  rays  by  day  and  the  fall  in 
the  temperature  of  the  air  at  night  weld  these  loose  grains  or 
particles  more  or  less  firmly  together,  the  upper  surface  indeed 
melting  to  some  extent,  but  the  main  mass  becoming  hard  and 
compact.  The  body  thus  formed  acquires  weight  and  moves 
slowly  more  or  less  down  the  mountain-side,  becoming  ever 
more  compact  and  homogeneous.  Thus  the  'snow'  of  the 
highest  regions  is   converted  into    ^ ficvP   or  'Firn.'      As  this 


22     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

mass  is  not  fluid,  like  water,  it  is  rent  asunder  when  it  moves 
over  the  steep  rock  slope  that  forms  its  bed,  and  thus  not 
merely  are  crevasses  or  holes  formed  in  it,  but  also  the 
peculiar  phenomenon  known  as  '  seracs.'  These  are  huge 
rectangular  blocks  or  squares,  rising  independent  of  each  other 
amid  yawning  chasms  where  the  descent  is  steep,  and  having 
a  singular  creamy  tint,  to  which  they  owe  their  name  of  'seracs,' 
that  being  the  local  term  used  at  Chamonix  for  the  shape 
assumed  by  the  '  second  cheese'  or  whey,  when  compressed  in 
rectangular  boxes. 

Now  the  '  neve '  is  not  yet  a  ' gladerj'  but  it  is  the  raw  material 
of  a  glacier,  or  the  feeder  of  a  glacier,  though  here  and  there 
(as  in  the  case  of  the  Blaugletscherli,  near  Grindelwald)  true  ice 
is  never  formed,  so  that  the  so-called  glacier  is  really  but  a  neve. 
While  the  neve  continues  its  downward  course,  it  is  squeezed 
and  confined  more  and  more  as  it  works  its  way  through  a  narrow 
gorge  towards  the  valley  or  highland  plain.  This  enormous 
pressure  converts  the  hard  snow  of  the  neve  into  real  pure  ice, 
and  so  into  a  '  glacier.'  In  a  glacier  as  in  a  neve  the  rents  caused 
by  moving  down  a  steep  slope  are  called  '  crevasses '  or 
'  Schriinde,'  while  a  particular  kind  of  rent,  namely  where  a 
steep  upper  slope  of  either  meets  a  more  level  field  of  one  or 
the  other,  is  distinguished  by  the  special  name  of  '  Bergschrund ' 
or  'rimaye.' 

Now  the  surface  of  a  glacier  is  not  smooth  and  level,  like  a 
skating-rink.  It  rises,  even  where  roughly  level,  in  many  humps 
or  hummocks,  caused  in  general  by  the  varying  action  of  the 
sun's  rays  on  the  surface  according  as  it  is  protected  by  sand  or 
stones,  or  not  protected.  Sometimes  these  humps  are  cones  of 
some  feet  in  height,  and  are  capped  by  a  great  boulder,  which 
has  intercepted  the  action  of  the  sun's  rays ;  these  ice  pillars, 
crowned  by  a  great  rock,  are  known  as  Glacier  Tables^  and  are 
among  the  most  striking  of  glacial  phenomena.  Elsewhere 
stones  lie  on  the  surface  of  the  ice ;  the  little  streams  that  run 
over  the  surface  in  the  daytime  cannot  pursue  a  straight  course 
perpendicular  to  the  glacier,  but  are  forced  to  hollow  out 
crooked  channels  for  themselves.     Now  when  a  stream  of  this 


k 


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A   CREVASSE   ON    THE    DZASSET   GLACIER  (EASTERN   GRAIANS) 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       23 

kind  meets  with  a  hole  in  the  ice,  still  more  when  the  hole 
is  large  enough  to  be  dignified  by  the  name  of  a  crevasse,  the 
water  naturally  seeks  an  issue  towards  the  rock-bed  beneath 
the  glacier.  The  falling  water  Httle  by  little  wears  away  the 
ice  and  enlarges  this  hole,  so  that  a  vertical  shaft  is  formed 
down  which  the  stream  rushes  in  a  waterfall.  The  waterfalls 
so  formed  are  called  '  moulins '  or  '  Glacier  Mills.'  Should 
the  glacier  we  are  studying  descend  over  a  steep  underlying 
bed  of  rock,  the  ice  (as  in  the  case  of  the  '  neve  ')  is  rent 
asunder  and  forms  'crevasses,'  while  it  is  also  broken  in  the 
steepest  parts  into  'ice-falls.'  Thus  an  'ice-fall'  is  always 
composed  of  towers  or  pinnacles  of  ice,  which  display  the 
wonderful  azure  tint  characteristic  of  pure  ice,  which  is  very 
easily  distinguished  from  the  dull  creamy  hue  of  the  square 
masses  formed  by  a  neve  during  a  similar  steep  descent. 

Now  it  is  beyond  question  that  glaciers  (like  the  neves  above, 
which  are  their  feeders)  move  downwards  towards  the  valleys. 
The/(2^/  of  this  movement  was  finally  established  as  late  as  the 
forties  of  the  nineteenth  century  by  a  few  persevering  investigators, 
among  whom  perhaps  the  chief  was  the  Scotchman,  J.  D.  Forbes 
(1809- 1 868),  who  made  a  series  of  exact  measurements  on  the 
Mer  de  Glace  at  Chamonix  during  the  summer  of  1842.  The 
precise  physical  cause  of  this  downward  movement  is  still  some- 
what of  a  puzzle,  and  many  theories  have  been  propounded  to  ex- 
plain it.  Here  we  need  only  assume  the  generally  admitted  fact 
of  downward  movement.  Now  ice,  though  plastic  and  therefore 
yielding  to  pressure,  cannot  be  stretched,  but  breaks  with  tension. 
This  is  the  real  cause  of  crevasses.  As  in  the  case  of  a  river, 
the  centre  of  a  glacier  moves  more  quickly  than  the  sides,  which 
are  retarded  by  the  friction  against  the  rock-walls  that  confine 
them,  while  it  is  also  true  that  the  surface  layer  of  ice  moves 
more  quickly  than  those  which  underlie  it,  this  too  being  owing 
to  friction  against  the  rock-bed  of  the  glacier.  These  strains 
in  different  directions  give  rise  to  various  kinds  of  crevasses, 
some  transverse  (this  is  the  most  usual  case),  some  marginal, 
some  longitudinal.  Of  course,  as  the  inclination  of  the 
rock-bed  diminishes,  the  crevasses  and  ice-falls  close  up,  and 


24    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  ice  becomes  once  again  more  or  less  level  and  homo- 
geneous. 

Another  consequence  of  the  fact  that  glaciers  do  really  move 
is  that  the  weighty  mass  of  ice  leaves  traces  of  its  action  on  the 
rock-bed.  It  grinds  out  the  natural  bosses  and  humps  on  the 
rock,  and  so  gives  rise  to  what  (when  they  can  be  seen  after  a 
glacier  has  retreated)  are  called  '  roches  moutonnees,'  for  they 
are  rounded  like  the  back  of  sheep.  If,  however,  as  often 
happens,  fragments  of  some  of  the  harder  kinds  of  rock  fall 
through  the  crevasses  to  the  rock-bed  of  the  glacier,  the  huge 
mass  of  ice  above  them  carries  them  on  in  its  course  and  forces 
them  to  scratch  deep  grooves  or  furrows,  known  as  '  striations,' 
in  that  rock-bed. 

Once  and  once  only  in  the  course  of  my  active  Alpine  career 
of  thirty-four  years  did  I  ever  see  this  double  process  at  work,  or 
rather,  as  the  glacier  moves  very  slowly,  reaUse  how  it  was  carried 
out.  We  were  descending  the  lower  ice-fall  on  the  Wengern 
Alp  side  of  the  Jungfraujoch.  One  tremendous  crevasse  could 
neither  be  turned  nor  crossed.  We  were  absolutely  stopped. 
But  our  brave  and  valiant  leader,  the  famous  guide.  Christian 
Aimer,  of  Grindelwald,  did  not  hesitate.  He  caused  a  staircase 
to  be  cut  down  the  side  of  the  great  crevasse  so  that  we  could 
reach  the  rock-bed  beneath  the  glacier.  Then  he  led  us  a  short 
distance  over  this  rock-bed  till  he  could  cut  another  staircase  up 
the  side  of  a  crevasse  lower  than  our  foe,  and  so  we  regained  the 
surface  of  the  ice  after  half  an  hour  spent  in  the  bowels  of  the 
glacier.  That  took  place  in  July  1872,  and  I  have  never  for- 
gotten how  we  actually  saw  in  situ  the  rock-bed  being  smoothed 
out  and  at  the  same  time  grooved  by  the  fragments  of  harder 
rock  that  were  forced  along  it.  Few  mountaineers  can  have 
been  privileged  to  enjoy  such  a  strange  sight,  which  was  worth 
more  than  tons  of  theory  and  book-reading. 

At  a  certain  point  in  the  downward  progress  of  a  glacier  the 
ice  of  which  it  is  composed  melts  more  rapidly  than  the  increase 
in  bulk  due  to  the  fresh  amount  borne  down  annually  to  the  snout 
of  the  glacier.  The  glacier  thus  dissolves  into  water,  which  joins 
the  underground  streams  flowing  out  from  beneath  it.    Together 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       25 

they  form  roaring  torrents  that  sometimes  fertilise  mountain 
valleys,  sometimes  cause  great  ravages  therein.  The  water  is  of  a 
milky  hue  owing  to  the  particles  of  rock  and  fine  dust  that  are  borne 
down  with  it  from  the  rock-bed  beneath  the  glacier.  These  moun- 
tain torrents  join  others,  and  form  both  waterfalls  and  lakes 
before  the  greater  river,  the  result  of  their  junction  (and  most 
Alpine  rivers  rise  in  glaciers),  loses  itself  in  one  or  other  sea. 

We  have  spoken  several  times  of  rocks  and  stones  on  the  glacier. 
These,  of  course,  have  fallen  from  above.  When  great  masses 
of  rock  and  stones  fall  on  the  edge  of  a  glacier  they  are  called 
'lateral  moraines'  ('Gandegg'  is  the  Bernese  name  for  moraines 
in  general),  while  the  accumulations  of  rubbish  at  the  foot  of  a 
glacier  form  the  'terminal  moraine.'  When  two  glacier  arms 
unite,  the  lateral  moraine  of  each  become  the  '  medial  moraine ' 
(or  'Gufer,'  especially  if  composed  of  debris  and  not  boulders) 
of  the  larger  stream  formed  by  their  union.  Ancient  moraines 
found  in  spots  now  far  away  from  any  glaciers,  help,  with  '  roches 
moutonnees  '  and  '  striations,'  to  prove  the  existence  of  former 
glaciers  in  that  district.  Another  proof  is  the  existence  of  huge 
boulders,  composed  of  rocks  not  found  in  that  region,  and  so 
presumed  to  have  once  been  brought  down  on  a  now  vanished 
glacier,  these  rock  islands  being  known  as  '  erratic  boulders.'  It  is 
said  that  B.  F.  Kuhn  was  the  first,  in  an  essay  published  in  1787, 
to  have  conjectured  the  former  great  extension  of  glaciers  in  the 
Alps,  ancient  moraines  having  put  him  on  the  right  track.  In 
1802  and  in  18 16  John  Playfair  was  independently  led  to  the 
same  conclusion  by  the  study  of  '  erratic  boulders,'  while  in  1821 
I.  Venetz  (his  essay  appeared  in  print  in  1833  only)  brought 
together  documentary  proofs  of  the  advance  and  retreat  of  Swiss 
glaciers  in  historical  times.  It  is  possible  that  Venetz  either  first 
learnt  of  this  fruitful  theory  from,  or  was  confirmed  in  it  by,  the 
acute  observations  made  by  a  simple  peasant,  carpenter  and 
hunter,  of  Lourtier,  in  the  Val  de  Bagnes  in  the  Vallais,  J.  P. 
Perraudin  (i 767-1858).  He  is  known  to  have  told  Charpentier 
in  1815  that  the  existence  of  what  were  later  called  'erratic 
boulders '  had  forced  on  him  the  belief  that  a  huge  glacier  once 
extended  down  the  Dranse  valley  as  far  as   Martigny,  while  a 


26     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

MS.  note  of  his  (dated  in  1818)  has  been  preserved  in  which  he 
declares  that,  owing  to  striations  (he  calls  them  '  wounds  made  in 
the  living  rock ')  on  certain  rocks  (now  far  from  existing  glaciers) 
in  his  native  valley,  he  felt  certain  that  the  Val  de  Bagnes  had 
once  been  occupied  by  a  great  glacier.  All  honour  to  this 
humble  observer  '  avant  la  lettre,'  whose  name  is  briefly  mentioned 
by  Venetz  (1821)  and  by  Charpentier  (1841) — both  personal 
acquaintances  of  his — but  whose  real  merits  have  only  lately 
(1899)  been  appreciated  at  their  proper  value  by  Professor  F.  A. 
Forel,  the  great  Swiss  authority  on  glaciers.  A  rival  of  Per- 
raudin's  was  the  Chamonix  guide,  Marie  Deville,  who  is 
said  to  have  come  to  a  similar  conclusion  in  181 5,  through 
the  evidence  of  'erratic  boulders'  and  'striations'  on  the 
rocks,  both  found  in  spots  now  far  distant  from  any  existing 
glaciers. 

Who  can  tell  how  soon  glaciers  that  at  present  survive  will  be 
known  only  by  the  rubbish  heaps  and  striations  that  they  have 
left  behind  them?  Practically  all  the  Alpine  glaciers  are  in 
retreat,  though  occasionally  some  one  or  the  other  advances  for 
a  short  period.  There  are  still,  in  1908,  glaciers  proper  in  every 
district  of  the  chain  of  the  Alps,  even  in  the  Maritime  Alps,  at  one 
extremity,  and  in  the  Dolomites  and  the  Julie  Alps  at  the  other, 
though  on  the  more  northerly  summits  (such  as  Glarnisch — the 
Santis  has  only  a  '  neve ')  and  on  the  Zugspitze  they  are  not  of 
any  very  great  extent.  The  most  extensive  tracts  of  glacier  ice 
are  to  be  found  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  the  Graians,  the  Mont 
Blanc  chain  and  the  Pennines,  the  Bernese  Oberland,  the  Ber- 
nina  Alps,  the  Adamello  group,  the  Ortler  and  Oetzthal  ranges, 
and  the  Tauern  chain  more  to  the  E.  The  number  of  glaciers 
is  not  known  precisely,  nor  even  the  approximate  area  they  cover, 
though  rough  estimates  have  been  made  of  the  glaciers  in  some 
specified  groups.  The  three  longest  glaciers  in  the  Alps  are  all 
in  the  Bernese  Oberland,  though  this  range  does  not  form  part 
of  the  main  chain  of  the  Alps — the  Great  Aletsch  glacier  is  i6h 
miles  in  length,  the  Unteraar  and  the  Fiescher  each  10  miles, 
and  the  Gauli  glacier  is  8|  miles.  The  Corner  glacier  and  the 
Mer  de  Glace  at  Chamonix  can  only  boast  of  9J  miles,  the  next 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       27 

longest  glacier  in  the  Mont  Blanc  chain  being  that  of  Argentiere 
(6|  miles),  while  the  Lower  Grindelwald  glacier  is  6^  miles  long. 
In  the  Eastern  Alps  the  Pasterze  glacier  (Gross  Glockner)  heads 
the  list  with  rather  over  6^  miles,  followed  closely  by  two  of  the 
Oetzthal  glaciers,  the  Gepatsch  (6-|  miles),  and  the  Hintereis 
(6  miles). 

Various  terms  are  employed  to  designate  glaciers.  The  English 
word  is  the  French  term  (pronounced  differently),  while  the 
Italian  is  '  ghiacciaio '  (more  rarely  '  ruise ')  and  the  Swiss 
•  Gletscher.'  In  the  Eastern  Alps  '  Ferner,'  '  vedretta,'  and 
'  Kees '  (the  last  named  is  special  to  Carinthia)  are  the  names 
employed.  Rarely  found  names  are  '  Biegno '  (Vallais)  and 
'  vadret '  (Engadine). 

Alpine  history  is  rich  in  stories  of  adventures  on  glaciers, 
especially  as  to  the  unlucky  individuals  who  have  had  the 
misfortune  to  fall  into  crevasses.  It  is  well  known  that  after 
a  certain  lapse  of  years  objects  dropped  high  up  reappear  at  a 
much  lower  level,  so  that  various  relics  of  the  Hamel  (1820)  and 
Arkwright  accidents  (1866) — both  of  which  happened  on  the 
'  Ancien  Passage '  not  far  from  the  summit  of  Mont  Blanc — 
came  to  light  in  1861-3  and  in  1897  respectively  on  the  Bossons 
glacier,  far  below  the  scene  of  the  catastrophe.  On  September 
I,  1886,  the  writer's  Bernese  guide  and  himself  made  the 
discovery  of  the  remains  of  some  hunter  or  shepherd.  We  were 
descending  the  great  glaciers  at  the  head  of  the  Val  de  Rhemes 
(one  of  the  southern  tributaries  of  the  Aosta  valley)  when,  at 
the  top  of  the  great  moraine  at  the  foot  of  that  glacier,  our 
attention  was  attracted  by  an  odd  series  of  regular  curves  on 
the  surface  of  the  ice,  each  marked  out  by  small  dark  objects. 
On  closer  examination  these  proved  to  be  fragments  of  a  skull 
and  other  bones,  of  a  felt  hat,  of  a  wooden  shoe  with  a  nail  in 
it,  a  bit  of  cloth,  a  piece  of  a  stick,  etc.  Clearly  they  were  the 
relics  of  some  lonely  wanderer  who  had  perished  on  this  huge 
glacier  years  before.  I  reported  our  discovery  to  our  host,  the 
cure  at  Notre  Dame  de  Rhemes,  that  evening.  He  told  me  that 
similar  discoveries  had  been  previously  made,  and  that  on  one 
occasion,  with  the  relics,  a  piece  of  money,   dating  from  the 


28     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

seventeenth   or   eighteenth    century,   had   come   to   light,   thus 
showing  how  long  ago  the  misfortune  had  occurred. 

One  of  the  most  extraordinary  escapes  from  a  fall  into  a 
crevasse  is  that  of  Christian  Bohren  on  the  Upper  Grindelwald 
glacier  on  July  7,  1787.  Authentic  records  of  it  have  been 
preserved,  so  that  the  main  facts  are  beyond  dispute.  On  the 
day  named,  Bohren,  with  his  servant.  Christian  Inabnit,  was 
leading  some  sheep  and  goats  from  a  pasture  on  the  slopes  of  the 
Wetterhorn  to  another  on  those  of  the  Mettenberg.  Inabnit 
was  walking  in  front,  when  he  heard  a  cry,  and  turning  round, 
saw  that  his  master  had  disappeared,  doubtless  down  a  deep 
crevasse.  After  having  placed  the  animals  in  safety,  Inabnit  ran 
back,  and,  according  to  his  own  account,  on  calling  down  a  crevasse 
near  the  presumed  scene  of  the  mishap,  received  an  answer  to 
the  effect  that  Bohren  was  alive  but  had  a  broken  arm. 
Bohren's  version  (published  in  August  1787  and  repeated 
verbally  by  him  in  1810)  of  what  followed  is,  that  finding  he 
could  stand  upright,  he  soon  noticed  a  mass  of  water  flowing 
near  him.  The  temperature  seemed  to  be  too  high  for  this 
to  be  ice-water,  so  that  he  at  once  conjectured  that  by  following 
its  upward  course  he  would  gain  the  outer  air.  This  he 
did,  and  on  gaining  the  right  edge  of  the  glacier  found  that 
the  stream  in  question  was  the  Weissbach,  a  torrent  that 
descends  from  the  Wetterhorn  slopes  to  the  spot  known  as 
'  im  Schlupf,'  between  the  Enge  and  the  Zybach's  Flatten  or 
Tritten,  just  where  it  is  still  usual  to  cross  the  level  ice  between 
the  two  lower  ice-falls.  Managing,  with  his  broken  arm,  nearly 
to  reach  the  valley,  he  met  the  men  who  had  come  up  with  ropes 
and  ladders  to  rescue  him.  The  servant's  version  (reported  by 
his  son)  is  slightly  different.  On  reaching  the  right  edge 
of  the  glacier  again,  it  occurred  to  him  that  perhaps  by  follow- 
ing the  downward  course  of  the  Weissbach,  he  might  find  his 
master.  This  he  did,  and  so  rescued  him  from  his  alarming 
predicament.  The  estimates  of  the  depth  of  the  crevasse  vary 
from  64  to  25  ft.  In  any  case  the  means  of  issue  was  afforded 
by  the  Weissbach,  and  not  (as  often  is  stated)  by  the  Liitschine 
at  the   very   foot   of  the  glacier.      Bohren's   estimate   of  the 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       29 

distance  he  traversed  under  the  ice  is  130  ft.  (not  steps,  as 
has  sometimes  been  said),  while  he  apparently  suffered  no 
permanent  harm  from  his  adventure,  as  he  died  in  181 7,  at 
the  age  of  sixty-two.  One  of  his  grandsons  was  the  well-known 
guide,  Peter  Bohren,  nicknamed  the  '  Gletscherwolf '  (died 
in  1882). 

Some  of  the  customs  and  laws  as  to  glaciers  are  curious. 
Most  quaint  was  the  fifteenth-century  feudal  tenure  by  which 
the  inhabitants  of  certain  villages  of  the  Ayas  valley  (a  tributary 
of  the  Val  d'Aosta)  were  bound  to  cover  with  earth  the  shining 
glacier  on  the  Becca  Torche  (9892  ft.) — so  that  the  reflection 
from  the  glittering  snows  might  not  injure  the  complexions  of 
the  ladies  of  the  house  of  Challant,  to  which  the  glen 
belongs !  In  more  modern  days  the  question  of  the  legal 
ownership  of  glaciers  has  become  a  matter  of  practical  interest. 
Much  ice  is  taken  from  certain  glaciers  for  the  use  of  cities 
in  the  plains  :  Who  has  the  right  to  grant  concessions  ?  Tolls 
are  often  imposed  on  visitors  penetrating  into  the  artificially 
made  caverns  at  the  base  of  other  glaciers :  Who  should 
authorise  these  tolls?  By  the  retreat  of  the  same  glaciers, 
considerable  tracts  of  land  are  uncovered  :  To  whom  do  they 
belong  ?  A  good  deal  of  ink  has  been  wasted  by  Alpine  jurists 
in  elaborating  ingenious  theories  to  meet  these  cases.  In 
practice  it  has  been  held  most  generally  that  it  is  the  State 
which  is  the  owner  of  the  glaciers  within  its  limits,  rather  than 
the  communes — so  in  Italy,  in  France,  in  the  Tyrol,  and  in 
the  duchy  of  Salzburg.  In  Switzerland  it  is  the  Canton  which 
is  the  State,  so  that  in  Vallais,  Vaud,  and  Bern  the  Canton 
exercises  the  rights  of  ownership.  In  Vaud  the  commune  of 
Ormonts  dessus  declined  in  1863  to  allow  the  Diablerets  glaciers 
to  be  reckoned  among  the  lands  of  the  commune,  objecting  to 
pay  for  the  measuring  of  these  fields  of  ice  with  a  view  to  future 
taxation.  On  the  other  hand,  the  commune  of  Bex  in  the  same 
Canton  did  lease  the  right  to  take  ice  from  the  glaciers  in  its 
territory  (1863),  but  in  1864  the  cantonal  authorities  success- 
fully resisted  this  claim,  as  an  encroachment  on  the  sovereign 
rights  of  the  Canton.     In   the  Orisons,  the   communes  have 


30    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

always  been  very  powerful  (indeed  they  were  long  sovereigns), 
so  that  we  are  not  surprised  to  hear  that  in  that  region  the 
glaciers  are  held  to  belong  to  the  owners  of  the  land  they 
cover — in  other  words,  to  the  communes.  There  is,  however, 
a  curious  exception  in  the  case  of  the  Scaletta  glacier  (above 
Davos),  which  belongs  to  private  individuals.  Now  there  are 
quite  a  number  of  '  Alps '  or  mountain  pastures  in  Switzerland 
which  are  held  as  private  property.  Why  should  not  a  multi- 
millionaire, seeking  for  novel  methods  of  getting  rid  of  his 
wealth,  purchase  glaciers,  and  in  fact  ultimately  '  make  a 
corner '  in  them  ?  This  prospect  opens  out  vistas  of  amazing 
and  most  amusing  possibilities. 

No  account,  however  summary  and  brief,  of  the  snowy 
region  of  the  Alps  would  be  complete  without  some  mention 
of  two  phenomena  that  occur  there.  One  is  the  existence  of 
tracts,  sometimes  of  considerable  extent,  and  especially  in  the 
early  summer,  of  Red  Snow.  This  is  found  on  snow  slopes  at 
the  head  of  glaciers  rather  than  on  the  ice  of  the  glacier 
itself.  It  was  long  thought  to  be  due  to  a  minute  insect,  but 
it  is  now  certain  that  it  is  caused  by  an  equally  minute  plant, 
the  Chlamydococais  nivalis,  which  is  pink  in  a  state  of 
germination,  becomes  deep  crimson  later  on,  and  ends  in 
black  dust  or  mould.  This  red  snow  is  a  very  surprising  sight, 
though  not  a  very  common  one. 

Now  a  few  words  as  to  the  other  phenomenon — Avalanches 
(the  word  means  that  which  descends  to  a  valley),  or  '  Lauinen ' 
(spelt  also  '  Lawinen '),  the  Italian  name  being  'valanga,'  and 
that  of  the  Engadine  Ladin  dialect,  '  lavina.'  It  appears  in 
mediaeval  Latin  under  several  forms — '  labin^e '  (used  in  a 
charter  of  Henry  vi.  of  England,  1422-1461,  as  regards  the 
Hospice  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard),  of  '  lowinae '  (in  a  document 
of  1302,  relating  to  the  dangers  encountered  by  the  parishioners 
of  Morschach,  above  Brunnen  on  the  Lake  of  Lucerne,  on 
their  way  to  their  parish  church  in  Schwyz)  and  '  lavanchise ' 
(in  two  documents  of  1475  ^^  regards  the  perils  which  would 
be  avoided  if  the  tunnel  beneath  the  Col  de  la  Traversette,  at 
the  N.  foot  of  Monte  Viso,  were  really  to  be  pierced).     Strictly 


THE  SNOWY  REGION  OF  THE  ALPS       31 

speaking,  the  term  '  avalanche  '  appUes  only  to  falls  of  snow  or 
ice,  but  it  is  also  often  used  in  case  of  falls  of  rock  or  of  earth. 
A  vivid  representation  of  a  snow  avalanche  is  given  in  a  wood- 
cut in  Stumpf's  book  of  1548,  probably  the  earliest  known 
picture  of  an  avalanche. 

The   real   true   avalanche    (' Grundlauine ')   is   composed   of 
half-frozen  masses  of  snow,  that  have  fallen  on  the  mountain 
slopes  during  winter,  and  descend  with  enormous  force  when 
the   thaw  comes  in   spring,    carrying   all  before    them — trees, 
stones,  animals,  men,  etc.      It  is  a  frightful  thing  to  witness 
(even   though    from  a  safe  distance)  the  descent  of  such  an 
avalanche,  and  to  hear  the  crackhng  and  see  the  bending  of 
the  mighty  pines  (often  planted  or  preserved  as  a  breakwater), 
sometimes  bodily  uprooted,  sometimes  springing  back  after  the 
falling  mass  has  passed  over  them — it  is  only  later  that  the  hoarse 
roar  reaches  the  ear.    Avalanches  of  this  kind  usually  follow  fixed 
channels  and  are  known  by  special  names,  e.g.  the  '  Steglaui ' 
and  the  '  Schiissellaui '  in  the  Grindelwald   valley  ;  but  some- 
times they  quit  their  ordinary  tracks,  and  then  the  damage  is 
greater  (huts  being  carried  off  though  built  in  what  were  thought 
to  be  secure  positions),  as  is  also  the  horrified  surprise  of  the 
eye-witnesses.       Another     kind     are     the    '  Staublauinen '    or 
'  avalanches  de  poussiere.'     These  are  formed  of  dry,  powdery 
snow,  and  are   less  dangerous  than   the  others ;  however,  if  a 
man  is  caught  by  one,  he  may  easily  be  swept  off  his  legs  and 
so    lost,    though   it  may    simply  flow  over  his  devoted  body. 
Such  occur  largely  in  winter,  though  also  in  early  autumn  after 
a  first  snow-fall.     It  is  a  marvellous  sight  to  see  the  whole  face 
of  the  Wetterhorn  covered  by  a  fall  of  this  kind,  as  with  a  veil 
of  lace,  slowly  and   noiselessly   dropping   downwards.     A  rare 
variety  of  this  kind  is  the  '  Hail  avalanche,'  which  was  well  seen 
during  the  great  storm  of  August  3,  1906,  when  the  great  N.W. 
wall  of  the  Eiger  was  draped  in  hissing  hail  and  rushing  water. 
'  Glacier  '  or  '  ice  '  avalanches  are  not  very  common.     Such  are 
the  falls  from  the  Giessen  and  Guggi  glaciers,  admired  by  tourists 
from  the  Wengern  Alp,  or  at  the  foot  of  the  Lower  Grindelwald 
glacier.     In  1636  and  1819  there  was  a  great  fall  from  the  Bies 


32     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

glacier  in  the  Zermatt  valley,  while  in  1782  and  1895  similar 
falls  took  place  on  the  Altels,  above  the  Gemmi  path. 

And  now  our  readers  can  put  to  themselves  the  question 
addressed  by  the  Lord  to  Job  (xxxviii.  verse  22,  R.V.) : 
'Hast  thou  entered  into  the  treasuries  of  the  snow?'  bearing 
ever  in  mind  that  'entering'  is  not  the  same  as  'knowing.' 


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CHAPTER  IV 

alpine  flowers 
By  George  Yeld 

ALPINE  flowers  may  be  roughly  divided  into  two  classes — 
IX.  the  larger  ones  which  are  found  in  the  pastures  and 
woods,  and  the  smaller  which  grow  for  the  most  part  higher  up 
and  make  beautiful  rocks  and  crevices,  and  even  the  rugged 
face  of  cliffs  and  precipices  up  to  altitudes  of  well  over 
10,000  ft. 

Let  me  speak  of  the  larger  flowers  first.  It  is,  of  course, 
impossible  to  give  a  list  of  them,  and  I  shall  ask  my  readers  to 
accompany  me  to  pastures  and  slopes  where  some  of  the  most 
striking  of  them  may  be  seen  in  masses.  Indeed,  for  the  most 
part,  these  larger  flowers  come  not  in  single  spies  but  in 
battahons,  and  in  any  given  spot  a  particular  flower  is  often 
dominant.  I  once  crossed  the  Great  St.  Bernard  in  a  late 
season,  when  there  was  snow  all  about  the  hospice,  and  when 
we  descended  on  the  Italian  side,  the  higher  meadows  had  not 
been  touched  by  the  cattle.  No  exhibition  of  hardy  flowers 
could  possibly  compete  with  the  glories  of  the  first  great  stretch 
or  basin  of  pasture  which  arrested  my  steps.  Tennyson,  in  one 
of  his  early  poems,  sings  : 

'  The  gold-eyed  Kingcups  fine  ; 
The  frail  bluebell  peereth  over 
Rare  broidry  of  the  purple  clover' ; 

but  here  the  blossoms  of  the  Globe  flower  {Trollius  europaeus), 
in  absolute  perfection   of  a  gold  without  alloy,  flamed  in  the 
sunshine  by  the  thousand  :  the  dainty  white  cups  of  Ranunculus 
c 


34     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

platanifolius  gave  here  and  there  a  flash  of  white  ;  and  the  less 
stately  but  even  more  beautiful  blue  masses  of  Alpine  Forget- 
me-nots  added  perhaps  the  most  lovely  of  all  hues  to  the  taller 
masses  of  white  and  gold.  Many  another  bloom — flower-masses 
of  Veronicas,  for  example — was  to  be  found  among  them,  but 
these  three  dominated  the  meadow — an  Alpine  triad  never  to  be 
forgotten. 

I  have  seen  in  the  Italian  Val  Ferret  roods — I  will  not  say 
acres — of  Gentiana  purpurea,  a  little  sombre,  perhaps,  but  as 
they  shimmered  in  the  sunlight  the  flowers  had  a  sumptuous 
richness  of  colouring  not  easily  to  be  surpassed.  Lower  down 
was  the  Martagon  lily  in  plenty,  less  vivid  in  colour,  but  still 
effective.  The  Veratrum,  with  its  tall  column  of  black  or 
green  blossoms  and  broad  green  leaves,  is  another  of  the  larger 
flowers  which  is  very  effective.  I  have  often  found  it  near  to 
the  purple  Gentian.  I  remember  a  spot — I  think  on  the 
Torrent  Alp  above  Leukerbad — where  it  was  very  plentiful.  It 
grew  amongst  the  last  survivors  of  a  pine  forest  and  below  a 
zone  of  the  purple  Gentian.  For  a  short  distance  the  two 
plants  were  to  be  found  mixed  together.  The  great  yellow 
Gentian  (^Gentiana  luted)  also  claimed  its  share  of  the 
ground. 

Perhaps  the  most  perfect  of  all  the  Alpine  flowers  is  the 
Alpine  Columbine  {Aquilegia  alpina) ;  I  remember  coming 
across  it  in  fair  numbers  in  a  pasture  that  sloped  to  the  Buthier 
torrent  in  the  Valpelline.  Some  of  the  plants  had  been 
trodden  down  by  the  cattle,  but  enough  were  left  to  enable  one 
to  judge  of  this  Columbine's  supreme  beauty.  The  large  blue 
and  white  flowers  are  delicately  poised  on  fairly  tall  stems  and 
are  graceful  in  the  extreme.  Perhaps  the  best  flowers  of  it  I 
ever  saw  were  to  be  found — it  is  thirty  years  ago — not  so  far 
from  the  Riffelberg  Hotel.  They  grew  in  a  spot  not  very  easy 
of  access.  When  placed  on  the  dinner-table  with  other  choice 
flowers  from  the  same  neighbourhood  they  awakened  a  chorus 
of  admiration  from  the  ladies. 

Rarely,  too,  though  in  several  places  in  the  Eastern  Graians, 
I    have   seen   Ranunculus   pyrenaeus   cover   the   meadow  with 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  35 

blossoms  white  and  shapely  as  a  breadth  of  snowdrops  in 
spring,  but  not  so  closely  packed  together.  This  Ranunculus 
does  not  droop  but  holds  its  cup  upright. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  conjure  up  the  sight  of  a  great  sloping 
meadow  covered  with  myriads  of  the  fragrant  Poet's  Narcissus 
above  a  great  lake  whose  waters  sparkle  in  the  sunshine.  Nor 
is  it  hard  to  conceive  the  splendour  of  the  green  terrace  high 
above  the  great  trough  of  the  Val  Tournanche,  with  the 
presence  of  the  dark  Cervin  always  felt,  if  not  seen,  when 
countless  Alpine  anemones,  whether  white  or  sulphur-yellow, 
have  opened  wide  their  shapely  cups  under  the  persuasion  of 
the  sun.  Sometimes  you  may  have  a  musical  accompaniment 
to  the  study  of  such  beautiful  gardens  of  nature  in  the  mellow 
notes  of  distant  cattle  bells,  or  the  rising  and  falling  melody  of 
the  merry  mountain  brook. 

The  common  foxglove  is  strikingly  ornamental,  with  its  tall 
spires  of  purple  and  white,  in  many  English  lanes  and  woodlands. 
Shorten  the  stems  and  make  the  flowers  bright  yellow,  and  you 
have  the  effect  produced  by  the  yellow  foxglove  in  the  Alps. 
The  best  flowers  I  have  chanced  upon  were  on  the  road  from 
Andermatt  to  Goschenen,  just  below  the  Devil's  Bridge,  and  on 
the  way  from  the  Col  du  Bonhomme  to  Bourg  St.  Maurice  in 
the  Tarentaise. 

Biscuteha  laevigata  is  a  plant  for  which  I  must  own  I  have  a 
rather  exaggerated  liking.  It  grows  largely  in  the  Cogne 
meadows  and  in  the  rough  ground  by  the  side  of  the  torrent 
from  the  Valnontey.  Its  masses  of  yellow  blossom  remind  me 
of  a  rock  Alyssum  with  long  stems. 

Large  yellow  flowers  of  Arnica  mofitana  in  a  mass  are  most 
eff"ective.  My  readers  will  recollect  Tennyson's  'Field  of 
charlock  in  the  sudden  sun.'  Deepen  the  yellow  and  give  the 
field  a  sharp  slope  and  you  will  have  some  inkling  of  a  mass  of 
arnica  on  the  rough  green  above  the  Marjelensee  ;  though  to 
make  the  picture  exact  you  must  add  an  undergrowth  of  forget- 
me-nots  and  other  little  blossoms.  Indeed  the  larger  flowers 
are  generally  set  in  a  mosaic  of  tiny  blooms. 

One  often  finds   Orchises   in   the   meadows,   one   or  two  of 


36     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

which  are  sweet-scented.  Perhaps  the  sweetest  is  the  narrow- 
leaved  Nigritella  {Nigriiclla  angustifolia),  with  its  strong  Vanilla 
fragrance.  I  have  seen  its  dark  rose-coloured  blossoms  in  large 
numbers  on  the  hillside  above  the  left  bank  of  the  Oreo,  close 
to  Ceresole  Reale. 

In  moist  places  Butterworts  are  effective  with  their  shining, 
oily,  pale  yellow-green  leaves  and  blue  or  white  flowers.  The 
bogbean  enjoys  a  watery  habitat.  Its  white,  rather  woolly, 
flowers,  slightly  flushed  with  purple,  are  very  fragrant.  The 
bird's-eye  primrose  {Primula  fori?iosa)  loves  a  moist  soil,  and  in 
a  mass  is  quite  an  eff"ective  flower,  though  the  individual 
blossoms  are  small.  I  have  seen  it  in  May  by  the  side  of  the 
Mont  Cenis  Railway,  quite  high  up  on  the  Italian  side,  in  such 
numbers  as  to  almost  colour  the  spot  where  it  grew ;  though  I 
dare  say  1  should  not  have  noticed  it  if  I  had  not  been 
specially  looking  for  it. 

St.  Bruno's  lily,  Anthericum  {Paradisia)  liliastrum,  has  a  fine 
white  bloom  with  yellow  anthers,  but  this  is  a  flower  which  I 
do  not  so  much  connect  with  masses  of  blossom  as  with  purity  of 
colour.  One  plant  in  full  flower,  later  than  its  fellows,  I  remember 
well,  for  I  found  it  just  before  we  took  to  the  rocks  above  the 
woods  near  La  Vachey  in  the  Italian  Val  Ferret.  Perhaps  I  re- 
member it  the  better  because  near  by  it  in  our  descent  in  the 
afternoon  we  had  to  climb  through  a  little  waterfall  which,  in  the 
morning,  had  been  hard  frozen. 

Late  in  the  Alpine  season  the  pale  purple  Autumn  Crocus, 
as  it  is  often  called,  Colchicum  autumnale,  clothes  the  meadows 
with  myriads  of  flowers.  Above  Villeneuve  in  the  Aosta 
valley,  under  the  shade  of  huge  chestnuts  and  in  orchards  but 
lately  shorn  by  the  scythe,  it  is  very  numerous.  Perhaps  it  is 
most  welcome  to  the  eyes  on  the  way  home  from  pass  or  peak. 
Last  year  it  gave  one  quite  a  homely  feeling  to  find  it  fairly  high 
up  the  Lotschenthal,  after  we  had  spent  a  long  day  on  the 
snow  and  ice  of  the  grim  mountain  wall  which  bounds  that 
narrow  valley  on  its  south  side. 

Sometimes  the  Alpine  traveller  is  pleasantly  surprised  by 
sweet  scents  when  no  flowers  are  visible.     I  remember  lunching 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  37 

beside  a  torrent  in  the  Val  di  Forzo,  a  tributary  of  the  Val 
d'Orco,  when,  as  I  leant  back  against  the  green  bank  above  the 
little  stream  by  the  side  of  which  we  were  resting,  a  very  sweet 
scent  came  floating  on  the  air.  I  immediately  began  to  search  for 
the  source  of  the  fragrance  and  found  it  in  some  well-developed 
clumps  of  the  mountain  Cyclamen  {Cycla??ie?i  europaeum).  This 
plant  in  its  favourite  habitat,  when  in  large  numbers  and  in  full 
flower,  is  one  of  the  most  charming  of  all. 

The  flowering  shrubs  of  the  Alps  are  many  and  attractive. 
Perhaps  first  we  should  put  the  Daphnes,  many  of  which  exhale 
an  exquisite  fragrance.  The  best  known  is  the  Garland  Flower 
{Daphne  Cneorum),  whose  deep-pink  blossoms  inherit  a  full 
measure  of  sweet  scent.  Azalea  procumbens,  which,  as  its 
name  suggests,  clings  to  the  ground,  is  a  notable  plant. 

Cytisi  of  several  kinds  produce  a  great  effect.  '  Emerging,' 
as  Mr.  Hinchliff  {Alpine  Journal,  v.  p.  106)  says,  'from  the 
pleasant  shade  upon  the  open  Creux  de  Champ,  you  fancy 
you  see  golden  curtains  hanging  from  ridges  of  brown  rock, 
and  festooned  among  the  deep  green  branches  of  the  pine 
forest.  What  a  combination  of  colour  !  Scramble  up  through 
beds  of  oak-fern  and  groves  of  that  splendid  Spiraea  which 
waves  its  huge  white  crests  before  the  breeze.  Look  up 
presently,  and  you  will  find  what  the  golden  curtain  is  made  of. 
It  is  a  magnificent  Laburnum,  the  Cytisus  alpinus,  whose  roots 
are  buried  between  the  rocks  above,  while  a  thousand  tails  of 
yellow  blossom  hang  down  in  clusters  before  your  delighted 
eyes.' 

The  Alpine  rhododendron,  commonly  called  the  Alpine  rose, 
once  gave  me  one  of  the  most  effective  sights  in  the  flower-world 
that  I  can  recall.  I  came  upon  it  in  a  late  season — acres  of 
Rhododendron  ferrugineum,  in  a  forest  where  the  trees  grew  at 
some  distance  apart.  The  brightness  of  the  colour — a  rich 
red,  the  extent  of  the  flower  show,  the  setting  of  pines  and  the 
background  of  stately  ramparts  of  rock  with  an  occasional 
waterfall,  made  the  scene  unique ;  and  the  memory  of  it  is 
proportionately  vivid.  Rhododendron  chafnaecistus,  a  native  of 
the  Eastern  Alps,  is  a  small  but  beautiful  shrub  with  paler  and 


38     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

more  delicate  blooms  than  Rhododendron  ferrugijjeum.  The 
Alpine  Clematis,  with  its  comparatively  large  blue  blossoms,  is 
a  very  ornamental  climber. 

The  wild  roses  of  the  Alps,  if  they  do  not  spread  themselves 
abroad  with  the  careless  profusion  which  characterises  their 
sisters  of  English  hedgerows,  have  blossoms  quite  as  bright,  and 
in  many  cases  a  fragrance  quite  as  delightful.  I  recall  on  one 
occasion,  on  my  way  from  Cogne  to  Gimilian,  the  village 
high  above  the  right  bank  of  the  Grand'  Eyvia,  in  the  early 
morning,  noticing  an  unusually  sweet  scent  in  the  air.  A 
diligent  search  discovered  the  source  of  it  in  some  bushes  of  a 
pure  white  rose  such  as  I  do  not  remember  to  have  seen 
elsewhere. 

Let  us  now  speak  of  the  smaller  and  more  delicate  flowers. 
The  feature  of  the  Alpine  flora  which  strikes  most  strongly 
those  who  see  true  Alpine  flowers  for  the  first  time  is  the 
brilliancy  of  the  colouring.  As  to  the  effect  of  height  upon 
flowers  I  quote  the  following  from  the  Alpine  Club  edition  of 
the  General  Introduction  to  Mr.  Ball's  Alpine  Guide  (p.  cxvi) : 
'  If  we  examine  individuals  of  the  same  species  growing  at  diff"erent 
heights  we  find  that  with  increasing  altitude  there  is  generally 
a  deepening  of  the  tints  of  the  flowers  ;  for  instance,  the  light 
blue  of  the  forget-me-not  becomes  deeper,  the  yellow  of  hawk- 
weeds  tends  towards  orange.  It  is  a  well-known  fact  that  the 
colours  or  shades  of  Alpine  flowers  change  when  the  plants  are 
cultivated  in  gardens.  In  any  family  of  flowering-plants  in 
which  flowers  having  different  tints  occur,  it  is  often  found  that 
the  yellow  flowers  are  the  simplest  and  most  lowly  organised, 
and  that  the  blue  flowers  are  the  most  highly  organised. 
Further,  it  is  known  that,  speaking  broadly,  in  a  family  the 
successive  advance  of  the  complication  of  the  flowers  corre- 
sponds more  or  less  to  the  colours  in  the  following  order : — 
yellow,  white,  pink,  red,  crimson,  violet,  blue.  In  Alpine 
flowers  there  is  a  larger  percentage  of  the  colours  corresponding 
genetically  to  high  organisation  than  there  is  in  the  lowland. 
For  instance,  the  yellow  of  the  lowland  primrose  and  cowslip 
is   supplemented  by  the  violet  tints  of  several  species  in  the 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  39 

Alps.  There  is  a  pink-flowered  Alpine  saxifrage  in  addition  to 
the  ordinary  yellow  and  white-flowered  species.  An  orange-red 
Alpine  hawkweed  contrasts  with  the  paler  yellow  lowland 
species.  There  are  many  flowers  which  are  violet,  or  brilliant 
sapphire,  or  deep  ultramarine  [Cainpanula,  Phyteuma, 
Saussured)  ;  the  gentians  vary  in  their  different  species  from 
yellow,  whitish  green,  to  deep  yet  vivid  blue ;  the  speedwells 
( Veronica)  from  pink  to  sapphire  with  a  central  spot,  white  or 
yellow,  fringed  with  orange  or  vermilion.  Frequently,  too,  the 
Alpine  flowers  have  stronger  scents,  and  pour  out  more  honey 
than  their  lowland  allies.' 

Just  as  it  is  not  always  the  most  beautiful  woman  that  wins 
the  most  hearts,  so  it  is  not  always  the  most  beautiful  flower  that 
charms  us  most.  Ranuncuhis  glacialis  has  a  modest  blossom  of 
white  flushed  with  pink,  rising  above  firm  leaves  of  dark — I 
might  almost  say — sombre  green ;  but  of  all  Alpine  flowers 
which  venture  to  make  a  home  on  the  high  rocks  of  the  Alps 
this  is  the  one  which  has  perhaps  most  delighted  me.  '  Not  as 
the  feeblest  and  yet  the  favourite,'  but  as  so  often  present  to 
smile  upon  a  difficult  rock  climb  or  to  greet  the  mountaineer's 
eyes  on  the  first  rocks  after  an  exciting  passage  of  step-cutting 
in  steep  ice.  I  have  found  it  at  12,400  ft.  on  the  Pic  de  la 
Lune  or  Pointe  de  Ceresole  in  the  mountains  of  Cogne,  in  a 
massive  tuft,  with  many  blossoms  and  a  wealth  of  vigorous 
leaves.  I  once  found  strong  tufts  of  it  with  many  blooms  rich 
in  colouring  on  the  last  rocks  of  La  Vierge  in  the  midst  of  the 
great  Geant  Glacier,  growing  as  freely  as  a  house-leek  on  the 
crumbling  wall  of  an  old  English  garden,  regardless  of  its  wintry 
surroundings.  I  have  met  with  it  on  the  summit  of  the  Tour 
de  Creton  on  the  great  ridge  which  bounds  the  Val  Tournanche 
on  the  west.  I  have  come  upon  a  perfect  nursery  of  it  at  the 
top  of  the  great  cliffs  between  the  much-crevassed  Dzasset 
Glacier  and  the  great  Plan  de  la  Tribulation  on  the  west  of  the 
Valnontey  above  Cogne.  I  have  seen  it  near  the  bleak  head 
of  La  Noire ;  but  by  far  the  most  beautiful  blossoms  of  it  that 
I  ever  beheld  were  growing  on  the  exposed  north  ridge  of  the 
shapely  Becca  di  Monciair  at  the  head  of  the  Val  Savaranche. 


40    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

We  found  them  in  an  exposed  position,  two  tiny  blossoms  on  a 
sparse  fringe  of  firm  green  leaves,  much  smaller  in  size  than  is 
usual,  with  less  pink  in  their  colouring,  but  with  a  purer  gold 
in  their  centres  than  I  ever  knew  them  show  elsewhere.  It 
surely  seemed  as  though  their  endurance  of  the  keen  frost  and 
the  biting  wind  had  ennobled  them,  as  so  many  of  the  purest  of 
the  high-growing  Alpine  plants  are  ennobled  :  as  though  beauty 
born  of  passionate  fortitude  had  passed  into  their  faces. 

The  fairy  forget-me-not  iyEritrichiuin  nafiuni)  is  a  sight  to 
dream  of,  not  to  tell — the  most  perfect  of  blues  with  the  most 
shapely  of  tiny  cups.  Blue  is  perhaps  of  all  colours  the  most 
difficult  to  define,  but  no  blue  that  I  have  ever  seen — whether 
that  of  the  turquoise  or  the  sapphire,  or  of  the  Sicilian  sea  on 
a  perfect  day — can  excel  the  blue  of  this  little  flower.  On  a 
grassy  ridge  in  Italy,  at  a  height  of  9000  ft.,  I  have  seen  it 
in  quantity.  I  have  seen  it  in  Switzerland  at  about  the  same 
height  flourishing,  but  not  so  plentiful ;  but  to  behold  it  in 
perfection  you  must  climb  higher.  Then  in  some  sunlit  little 
hollow  on  a  rock-wall  facing  south  at  1 0,000  ft.  you  shall 
look  upon  it  in  perfection.  The  blossoms  cover  the  hairy 
leaves  from  which  the  plant  takes  its  name.  They  are  as 
innocent,  as  taking,  as  childlike  as  our  own  '  Little  speedwell's 
darling  blue,'  though  richer  in  colour.  One  of  the  biggest 
tufts  I  ever  found  was  on  the  south  side  of  one  of  the  Gemelli 
della  Roccia  Viva  in  the  Eastern  Graian  Alps,  at  a  height  of 
probably  close  upon  11,000  ft.  Its  beauty  appealed  not  only 
to  me  but  to  my  guides.  A  cornice  of  red  rock  protected  it, 
though  I  doubt  not  the  moisture  from  above  somehow  trickled 
to  its  roots. 

Androsace  glacialis  is  another  of  the  dwellers  on  bleak 
heights  and  precipitous  walls.  There  are  other  flowers — not 
Cleopatras,  but  Charmians — that  find  a  place  in  our  story. 
Such  an  one  is  Thlaspi  rohindifolmm,  with  shining  green  leaves 
and  pale  purple  or  mauve  flowers,  unpretentious  but  welcome 
as  an  old  friend. 

The  red  Rockfoil  {Saxifraga  oppositifolia)  I  have  seen  in 
better  condition  in  the  English  Lake  district  than  in  Switzer- 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  41 

land,  for  it  is  generally  out  of  flower  in  August.  But  to  any  one 
who  finds  it  in  perfection  it  is  a  very  beautiful  flower.  On 
the  southern  side  of  the  St.  Gotthard  tunnel,  high  up,  it  was 
to  be  seen  in  splendid  tufts  in  mid- April,  1906.  Red  is 
always  an  eff"ective  colour,  and  the  red  of  this  flower  is  set 
off  by  the  brown  of  the  anthers  and  the  finely  cut  foliage.  Of 
the  many  other  saxifrages  I  will  mention  only  the  great  pyra- 
midal-flowering Saxifraga  Cotyledon.  Of  this  I  have  seen 
wonderful  examples  in  rocky  hollows  and  ravines  in  the  Eastern 
Graians.  Tall,  graceful,  starred  with  a  profusion  of  blossoms, 
they  rose  from  strong,  firm,  silver-edged  tufts  of  green,  and 
waved  their  twinkling  splendours  over  our  heads  in  homes  too 
high  to  be  reached  without  a  ladder. 

Of  Gentians  much  might  be  said,  but  no  one  can  properly 
appreciate  them  who  has  not  seen  twenty  tufts  of  Gentiatia 
verna  or  bavarica  in  full  bloom  in  full  sunshine.  The  blue  is 
full  and  deep,  and,  like  that  of  the  fairy  forget-me-not,  very 
difficult  to  describe.  I  may  say  without  exaggeration  that  I 
have  seen  patches  of  it  so  large  and  of  such  vivid  colour  that 
the  little  basin  where  they  grew  shone  blue  in  the  sun. 

Gentiatia  acauHs,  too,  must  not  be  passed  over.  It  is  a 
beautiful  and  effective  plant,  and  luckily  well  known  in  English 
gardens  under  the  name  of  Gentianella.  But  in  talking  of 
blues  I  must  not  forget  the  pale  blue  bells  of  Campanula 
cenisia.  This  flower  should  be  seen  in  a  mass,  as  I  have  found 
it  in  the  Graians.  To  the  west  of  the  ice-fall  of  the  great 
Trajo  glacier  under  the  Grivoletta  it  may  be  admired  in  pro- 
fusion. Hundreds  of  pale  blue  bells  over  delicate  green  fohage 
give  quite  a  striking  effect  for  so  small  a  flower. 

The  Campanula  excisa  is  a  pretty  flower.  It  is  one  of  the 
special  flowers  of  the  Berisal  district,  where  it  may  be  found 
almost  everywhere.  It  first  struck  me  as  an  effective  little 
plant  high  up  in  the  Baltscheiderthal,  where  flowers  were  by 
no  means  numerous. 

Androsace  (late  Aretia)  Vitaliana  is  a  charming  Alpine  flower. 
The  finest  display  of  it  I  have  seen  was  in  a  narrow,  dry 
torrent   bed   above   the   Cerru   lake  at   the   head   of  the  Val 


42     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

d'Orco.  Hundreds  of  bright  blossoms  of  a  soft  yellow  fell 
like  golden  fringes  over  the  rough  stones. 

Alpine  pinks  have  many  beauties.  Dianthus  glacialis  is 
delightful.  Our  own  Cheddar  pink,  Dianthus  caesius,  is  very 
pretty,  but  my  favourite  is  Dianthus  neglectus.  A  specially 
fine  form  of  this  variety  is  found  in  the  Val  Piantonetto  in  the 
South-eastern  Graians.  It  is  of  a  soft  rose  colour,  and  the 
flower  is,  comparatively  speaking,  large. 

There  are  some  plants  which  may  be  found  comparatively 
low  down,  and  also  comparatively  high  up.  Of  these  is 
Chrysanthetnum  alpinimi,  always  welcome.  I  have  found  it 
even  at  10,000  ft.  growing  quite  freely,  but  this  was  in  Italy. 
The  last  time  I  saw  it  high  up  was  on  the  Beichgrat  in  the 
Bernese  Oberland,  after  bad  weather,  and  there  the  frost  had 
shrivelled  it.  Where  it  grows  freely  its  masses  of  bloom 
captivate  the  eye  at  once. 

Let  me  take  you  to  an  Alpine  slope  at  from  8000  to 
9000  ft.  in  a  late  season,  say  in  the  first  week  of  August. 
There  through  the  melting  snow  breaks  the  Soldanella  of  a 
fairy-like  grace ;  there  the  Alpine  Wallflower  shows  a  blossom 
much  brighter  in  colour  though  shorter  by  a  good  deal  in  the 
stem  than  it  ever  puts  forth  in  an  English  garden;  there 
anemones,  including  the  light  purple  Halleri,  poise  themselves 
in  the  sun.  Forget-me-nots  sparkle  '  Azure  of  Heaven's  own 
tinct';  primulas  shine  softly  in  crevices  of  rock:  saxifrages 
cover  the  stones  with  trails  of  blossom,  or  spring  in  little 
sheets  of  bloom  from  masses  of  finely  cut  leaves. 

There  are  pansies  too,  possibly  with  a  mark  of  heavy  footsteps 
near  them,  for  there  are  villages  in  the  Italian  Alps  where  the 
pansy  is  worn  on  August  15th  by  many  villagers,  and  the 
Alpine  slope  we  are  talking  of  is  the  florist  which  supplies 
them.  The  most  beautiful  pansies  I  ever  found  were  growing 
in  the  Arpisson  basin  above  the  Arpisson  chalets  near  Cogne, 
famous  for  their  view  of  the  stately  Grivola.  In  the  first 
meadow  of  the  alp,  above  the  gorge  through  which  the  torrent 
falls  in  noisy  haste,  the  myriads  of  rivulets  that  hurried  through 
the  grass  were   that   morning   fringed   with   icicles,    and   such 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  43 

sparkling  jewellery  as  the  night's  frost  had  hung  upon  them  : 
higher  up  the  snow  lay  lightly,  and  edged  the  tiny  blossoms 
of  pansies  and  forget-me-nots.  No  splendid  tear  such  as  fell 
from  Tennyson's  passion-flower  appeals  to  the  flower-lover  half 
as  much  as  these  half-frozen  drops  on  the  fragrant  cup  of  the 
Viola.  There  were  too,  on  that  slope  I  spoke  of,  gentians 
of  the  richest  blue ;  A?iemone  verfialis,  with  its  setting  of  rich, 
glossy  brown  hairs ;  and  there  also  Silene  acaulis  covered 
rosettes  of  shining  leaves  with  multitudinous  blooms  of 
pleasing  red. 

Let  me  here  quote  one  of  the  best  accounts  of  a  host  of 
Alpine  flowers  ever  written,  by  one  who  loved  and  knew  them 
passing  well.^ 

'  On  such  Alps  as  those  of  the  Faulhom  there  are  acres  of  blue  and 
white  crocuses  in  full  blossom  under  the  snow  ;  and  as  the  fierce 
midsummer  sun  daily  diminishes  the  size  of  the  snow  patches, 
thousands  of  their  blossoms  emerge  and  gradually  lift  up  with 
thankfulness  their  oppressed  heads.  If  you  raise  a  few  handfuls 
of  rather  deeper  snow,  you  will  find  hundreds  more  of  them  lying 
almost  flat  upon  the  ground,  and  anxiously  waiting  for  their  share 
of  the  great  warmth-giver.  A  few  feet  only  from  the  retiring  snow, 
where  the  soil  is  still  soaked  with  its  melting,  the  purple  bells  and 
drooping  fringe  of  the  Soldanella  alpina  spring  as  by  magic  out  of 
the  ground  which  is  yet  brown  from  its  burial  during  six  months  of 
wintry  sleep.  Lovely  indeed  is  this  waking  from  slumber,  this 
melting  of  death  into  life.  On  one  of  those  bright  first  days  of 
July  we  ascended  the  INIannlichen,  a  grassy  mountain  about  7700 
ft.  high,  which  forms  the  angle  between  the  two  Liitschine  rivers, 
and  thus  commands  the  valley  of  Lauterbrunnen  on  one  side  and 
that  of  Grindelwald  on  the  other.  The  collection  of  flowers  grew 
rapidly  as  we  moved  upwards.  Pink  rhododendrons  and  purple 
columbines  were  supplemented  by  yellow  anemones  and  blue 
gentians  ;  then  came  the  white  crests  of  Anemone  narcissiflora, 
beautiful  to  behold  ;  then  crocuses,  blue  and  white,  and  beds  of 
the  lilac-belled  soldanella  on  the  margin  of  the  snow.  In  open 
places  upon  the  top  was  an  abundance  of  the  delicate  Lloydia 
serotina  and  Myosotis  alpestris,  which  far  excels  all  other  forms  of 
forget-me-not.' 

1  Mr.  T.  W.  Hinchliff,  [ubi  supra,  pp.  io8-q). 


44     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

There  are  some  flowers  which  win  a  place  in  the  mountaineer's 
regard,  not  so  much  for  their  intrinsic  beauty,  as  because  they 
clothe  with  their  greenery  or  soften  with  the  brightness  of  their 
blossoms  the  rough  moraine  or  the  wet  rocks  whence  water 
oozes  forth,  or  the  rugged  side  of  a  mountain  brook.  The 
Alpine  Toad  Flax  {Linaria  alpina),  with  its  purple  and  orange 
flowers,  gives  the  climber  many  a  pleasant  surprise  as  he  picks 
his  way  over  rough  ground.  Saxifraga  aizoides  sometimes 
hides  the  birthplace  of  tiny  streams  with  masses  of  its  green 
leaves  and  flowers  that  vary  much  in  colour ;  and  even  such 
an  unobtrusive  plant  as  the  creeping  willow  plays  no  incon- 
siderable part  in  softening  the  rough  spaces  between  moraine 
and  mountain  pasture.  In  such  spots,  too,  the  mountain 
Avens  {Dryas  octopetala),  with  its  white  and  gold,  is  often 
delightful. 

Mountain  Cresses,  with  their  little  white  flowers,  can  make 
quite  a  brave  show  when  they  have  established  themselves  on 
the  walls  of  an  abysmal  chasm  absolutely  impossible  of  ascent 
or  descent  for  the  cleverest  of  climbers.  On  the  Plattenhorner, 
to  the  east  of  the  Gemmi,  in  the  gaunt  ravines  which  seam 
the  wall  that  faces  the  Torrent  Alp,  I  marked  them  with 
admiration.  You  may  look  with  awe  down  one  of  these  chasms 
and  snatch  a  fearful  glimpse  of  green  meadow  many  hundred 
feet  below ;  whilst  on  the  chasm's  walls  here  and  there  these 
cresses  hang  tenaciously. 

There  are  many  everlasting  flowers  to  be  found  in  the  Alps, 
the  most  famous  of  which  is,  of  course,  the  Edelweiss  {Gnapha- 
lium  kontopodium).  Though  there  are  many  slopes  easy  of 
access  where  it  grows  freely,  yet  every  year  many  visitors  to 
the  Alps  who  are  not  accustomed  to  climbing  of  any  sort 
lose  their  lives  in  attempting  to  gather  this  much-desired 
flower  in  places  where  the  ground  is  difficult.  It  is,  by  the 
way,  quite  easy  of  cultivation  in  English  gardens.  There  are, 
too,  many  plants  which  are  gathered  for  the  making  of  liqueurs. 
I  once  met  on  the  slopes  below  the  Herbetet  at  Cogne  a  man 
laden  with  a  great  sack  of  plants  which  he  had  been  collecting 
for  this   purpose.      The  best   known   and   most  popular  is,   I 


ALPINE  FLOWERS  45 

believe,  Artemisia  mutellifia,  '  le  vrai  genepy,'  a  plant  also  used 
medicinally  by  the  peasants. 

We  have  given  in  this  chapter  but  a  brief  account  of  the  most 
prominent  and  beautiful  of  Alpine  flowers.  Whole  clans  of 
charming  plants  have  been  omitted,  for  example,  the  Arenarias 
and  Fotefitilias,  the  Sedums  and  Sempervivuffis ;  the  most 
famous  of  the  last-mentioned  family  is  the  Cobweb  Houseleek 
{Sempervivum  araduwideum),  described  by  Mr.  William  Robin- 
son as  'one  of  the  most  singular  of  Alpine  plants,  with  tiny 
rosettes  of  fleshy  leaves  covered  at  the  top  with  a  thick  white 
down,  which  intertwines  itself  all  over  the  leaves  like  a  spider's 
web.'  Ferns,  which  are  among  the  most  beautiful  of  all 
Nature's  creations,  have  been  intentionally  omitted. 


CHAPTER  V 

SOME    BEASTS  AND  BIRDS  OF  THE  ALPS 
By  Howard  V.  Knox 

NO  account  of  the  Alps  can  be  complete  without  some  notice, 
however  brief,  of  the  principal  Beasts  and  Birds  which  are 
still  to  be  found  in  that  region,  a  subject  that  is  very  interesting  in 
many  ways.  In  these  pages  we  can  touch  only  on  a  few  repre- 
sentatives of  each  class,  such,  on  the  one  hand,  as  the  Bear,  the 
Bouquetin,  the  Chamois,  the  Marmot,  the  White  Hare,  the  Fox, 
etc. ;  and,  on  the  other,  the  Lammergeier,  the  Golden  Eagle,  the 
Alpine  Chough,  the  Ptarmigan  and  the  Wall-creeper.  In  all  these 
cases  we  limit  ourselves  to  the  species  that  occur  in  the  Alps 
(whether  French,  Swiss,  Italian,  or  Austrian),  the  Fauna  of  which 
is,  of  course,  by  no  means  co-extensive  with  that  of  Switzerland, 
as  is  sometimes  stated. 

A. — Some  Beasts  of  the  Alps 

Not  so  very  long  ago,  historically  speaking,  the  Brown  Bear 
(  Ursus  arctos)  was  to  be  found  throughout  the  whole  of  Europe, 
including  Britam.  But  at  the  present  day  its  range  in  that  part 
of  the  world  is  restricted  to  the  vast  forests  in  the  North  and  to 
the  great  mountain  systems  that  extend  from  the  Caucasus  to 
the  Pyrenees.  In  the  Western  and  Eastern  Alps  it  is  now  very 
rare  indeed.  In  the  Central  or  Swiss  Alps  its  last  remaining 
stronghold  is  in  the  dense  forests  of  pine  and  scrub  to  the  east  of 
Zernetz  in  the  Lower  Engadine.  In  that  neighbourhood,  up  to 
the  year  1884,  its  existence  was  demonstrated,  though  hardly 
favoured,  by  the  fact  that  one  or  more  specimens  were  secured 

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SOME  BEASTS  AND  BIRDS  OF  THE  ALPS   47 

almost  yearly  as  trophies  of  the  chase.  Since  that  date,  however, 
the  slaughter  of  a  bear  in  the  Swiss  Alps  is  ever  more  rarely 
chronicled. 

To  human  beings  the  brown  bear  is  apt  to  be  more  alarming 
than  dangerous.  Except  when  wounded,  or  on  guard  over  its 
cubs,  or  very  hard  pressed  by  hunger,  it,  as  a  rule,  ostentatiously 
effaces  itself  on  the  approach  of  man.  But  Bruin,  though  sub- 
sisting chiefly  on  a  vegetarian  diet,  when  this  fails,  will  often 
leave  his  hidden  retreat  in  order  to  make  a  nocturnal  raid  on 
sheep  or  cattle.  He  even,  on  occasion,  breaks  into  the  hut 
wherein  the  goats  are  shut  up,  and  drags  forth  a  victim. 

In  dealing  with  the  subject  of  bears  in  the  Alps  it  is  impossible 
to  avoid  all  mention  of  the  bear-pit  at  Berne.  With  hardly  a 
break  since  15 13  this  has  been  a  regular  institution  of  the  town, 
in  keeping  with  the  adoption  of  a  bear  for  the  arms  of  both  town 
and  Canton.  As  far  back  as  1224  the  official  seal  of  the  town 
(founded  in  1191)  displayed  a  bear,  while  the  traditional  deriva- 
tion of  the  name  Berne  from  '  Baren  '  (bears),  though  formerly 
scouted  by  many  learned  men,  now  receives  a  certain  measure  of 
support  from  recent  historical  writers.  In  view  of  the  special 
association  of  bears  with  the  town  and  Canton  of  Berne,  it  is 
interesting  to  note  that  the  last  bear  that  was  killed,  in  the  wild 
state,  within  the  limits  of  the  Canton,  was  shot  in  181 9  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  Riederen,  a  hamlet  in  the  Diemtigen  glen  of 
the  Simmenthal. 

One  of  the  very  last  well-authenticated  cases  of  the  occurrence 
of  bears  in  the  Canton  of  Berne  was  that  of  a  formidable  animal 
which,  for  several  weeks  in  the  autumn  of  1792,  haunted  the 
neighbourhood  of  the  Little  Scheidegg,  near  Grindelwald.  It 
decimated  the  flocks  that  grazed  the  pastures  on  either  slope  of 
that  pass,  but,  though  hunts  were  continually  organised  for  the 
purpose  of  ridding  the  country-side  of  this  terror.  Bruin  for  a  long 
time  contrived  to  evade  the  hunters.  But  at  last  three  men  of 
Grindelwald  came  upon  him  at  no  great  height  above  their 
valley,  and  each  of  their  bullets  found  a  billet  in  his  body. 
Nevertheless  the  bear  made  off,  bullets  and  all,  and  for  the  space 
of  more  than  an  hour  clambered  up  the  wooded  slopes  of  the 


48     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Mannlichen.  Here  he  had  the  misfortune  to  encounter  yet  a 
fourth  Grindelwalder,  a  young  fellow  named  Hans  Kaufmann. 
This  youth  levelled  his  musket  at  the  monster,  and  pulled  the 
trigger.  But,  owing  presumably  to  the  snowy  weather,  the 
musket  refused  to  go  off,  while  the  bear,  on  the  other  hand, 
resolutely  came  on.  Rearing  himself  on  his  hind  legs  he  sought 
to  enfold  the  hunter  in  a  close  embrace.  Kaufmann,  however, 
stood  his  ground  bravely,  and  repelled  these  advances  with  the 
butt-end  of  his  weapon,  which  he  used  with  such  vigour  that, 
while  the  musket  flew  into  pieces,  the  bear  sank  dead  at  his  feet. 
For  his  valiant  conduct  Kaufmann  received  from  the  cantonal 
authorities,  in  addition  to  the  usual  sura  awarded  for  the  slaughter 
of  a  bear,  '  a  special  recompense  of  a  new  louis  d'or^  The 
musket,  too,  was  replaced  by  the  free  gift  of  a  new  weapon,  taken 
from  the  public  armoury. 

The  protection  extended  by  the  kings  of  Italy  to  the  Bou(iuetm 
or  Steinbock  {Capra  ibex)  has  so  far  saved  it  from  the  fate 
which  seems  to  threaten  the  brown  bear.  In  1856-7  Victor 
Emmanuel  11.  acquired  exclusive  hunting  rights  in  the  district  of 
Cogne  (S.  of  the  valley  of  Aosta),  and  placed  the  existing  herd  of 
bouquetins  under  the  strictest  supervision.  That  there  were  then 
any  of  these  animals  left  at  all  was  in  all  probability  due  to 
the  action  taken  by  the  Piedmontese  Government,  at  the  instance 
of  the  naturalist  Zumstein,  in  182 1,  when  severe  laws  were  passed 
prohibiting  the  pursuit  of  the  few  specimens  of  this  species  to  be 
found  within  its  territory.  Under  the  watchful  care  of  the  king's 
keepers  the  original  small  herd  quickly  increased  in  numbers  to 
about  three  hundred,  and  continues  to  flourish  to  the  present 
day  in  the  Cogne  district,  though  outside  that  region  the  animal, 
except  as  a  straggler,  is  no  longer  to  be  met  with,  for  the  colonies 
transported  to  the  Orisons  and  the  Tyrol  have  not  long  survived. 
In  fact,  these  bouquetins  are  now  the  sole  representatives  of  their 
species,  for  though  allied  species  of  ibex  occur  elsewhere  in 
Europe,  the  form  found  in  the  Alps  is  peculiar  to  that  region. 

The  dwindling  in  numbers  of  the  bouquetin,  a  process  which, 
in  one  district,  was  so  fortunately  arrested  in  the  very  nick  of 
time,  as  just  described,  had  already  been  going  on  during  a 


SOME  BEASTS  AND  BIRDS  OF  THE  ALPS   49 

lengthy  period.  As  early  as  the  beginning  of  the  sixteenth 
century  this  diminution  had  made  itself  felt,  and  by  the  end  of 
the  same  century  the  animal  had  become  extremely  rare,  even 
in  those  parts  (such  as  the  Grisons)  wherein  it  was  formerly 
most  abundant.  Though  now  extirpated  from  Swiss  soil,  it  has 
left  a  memento  of  its  former  presence,  as  it  is  borne  on  the  arms 
of  Interlaken  and  of  Unterseen,  as  well  as  on  those  of  the  Grey 
League  of  the  Grisons  and  of  the  city  of  Coire. 

A  further  cause  (perhaps  also  partly  an  effect)  of  the  rarity 
of  the  bouquetin,  even  in  mediaeval  times,  was  the  belief  in  the 
therapeutic  efficacy  of  different  parts  of  its  body,  a  belief  which, 
of  course,  greatly  enhanced  the  value  of  the  carcase.  There 
was  also  a  superstition  to  the  effect  that  a  goblet  fashioned  from 
its  horns  would  enable  the  user  to  detect  the  presence  of  any 
poison  in  the  liquid  contents.  All  sorts  of  wild  tales,  indeed, 
were  current  in  those  days  concerning  the  bouquetin  and  its 
ways.  Even  so  genuine  a  naturalist  as  the  celebrated  Conrad 
Gesner,  writing  in  the  middle  of  the  sixteenth  century,  repro- 
duces in  all  good  faith  the  legend  that  the  bouquetin,  when  it 
feels  that  the  sands  of  its  life  are  running  low,  betakes  itself  to 
some  pinnacle  of  lofty  loneliness,  and  there,  hooking  a  horn  to 
the  summit,  proceeds  madly  to  twirl  round,  till  at  last  the  horn 
is  worn  through,  and  the  animal  is  precipitated  into  the 
depths.  It  is  curious,  by  the  way,  that  a  somewhat  similar  tale 
is  told  (by  the  same  author)  of  the  chamois.  The  chamois,  he 
says,  when  hard  pressed  by  the  hunter,  and  driven  into  some 
position  whence  further  escape  is  impossible,  obligingly  hangs 
itself  up  on  a  rock  by  its  hooked  horns  (presumably  thus  acknow- 
ledging that  the  game  is  up)  and  so  suffers  itself  to  be  taken. 

While  the  bouquetin  belongs  to  the  family  of  the  goat,  the 
Chamois  {Rupicapra  tragus)  has  the  distinction  of  being,  in 
Western  Europe,  the  sole  representative  of  the  antelope  tribe. 
Less  powerful-looking,  but  shapelier,  than  the  bouquetin,  the 
chamois,  by  its  fearless  and  graceful  carriage,  proclaims  its  sure 
possession  of  the  hills.  Marvellous  as  are  the  stories  often  told 
as  to  the  climbing  powers  of  the  chamois,  it  is,  in  truth,  almost 
impossible  to  exaggerate  this  animal's  mastery  of  the  rocks. 

D 


50    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

The  true  habitat  of  the  chamois  in  the  summer  months  is  the 
region  between  the  snow-Hmit  and  the  Hmit  of  trees.  The  old 
bucks,  however,  commonly  lead  a  solitary  and  somewhat  sedentary 
life  on  the  upper  fringe  of  the  pine  forests,  until  they  sally  forth 
in  the  early  winter  to  seek,  and  often  to  battle  for,  a  mate.  The 
does  and  young  males  herd  together  in  companies  of  from  five 
to  thirty  individuals,  and  live  at  a  much  greater  altitude.  While 
feeding,  they  generally  depend  for  safety  on  the  vigilance  of  a 
sentinel — invariably  an  old  female — which,  on  the  approach  of  an 
enemy,  gives  the  signal  of  alarm  by  a  loud  sibilant  whistle. 

On  the  arrival  of  winter  the  chamois  are  driven  down  to  a  level 
lower  than  that  of  their  summer  haunts,  though  even  at  this 
season  they  hardly  ever  come  much  below  the  tree-limit.  They 
usually  take  up  their  night-quarters  huddled  together  under  some 
spreading  pine,  whence  at  daybreak  they  ascend  for  a  time 
to  the  inhospitable-looking  slopes  above,  where  the  ground  is  too 
steep  to  hold  more  than  a  thin  coating  of  snow.  Then,  scratch- 
ing away  the  snow  with  their  forefeet,  they  eat  whatever  moss  or 
dried  herbage  they  find  beneath. 

In  winter  the  old  bucks  develop  a  mane-like  fringe  of  dark 
bristly  hairs  along  the  back.  This  is  the  so-called  '  Gemsbart ' — 
beard  in  the  proper  sense  the  animal  does  not  possess — so  highly 
prized  by  the  chamois-hunter,  who  carefully  picks  out  the  longest 
hairs,  and  puts  them  together  in  a  tuft,  to  be  worn  in  his  hat,  as 
a  token  of  his  prowess,  on  festal  occasions. 

Almost  everywhere  in  the  Western  and  Central  Alps — less 
frequently  in  the  Eastern  Alps — the  wanderer  in  the  region 
just  below  the  snow-line  will  hear  the  loud,  shrill  whistle,  which 
is  the  alarm  signal  of  the  Marmot  {Arctomys  marmota).  This 
rodent  is,  in  fact,  more  often  heard  than  seen,  its  dark-brown 
colouring  rendering  it,  when  at  rest,  very  difficult  to  distinguish 
among  the  sparse  herbage  and  rocks  of  its  lofty  home.  But 
any  one  who  makes  good  use  of  his  eyes  is  sure  to  get  an  occa- 
sional sight  of  this  animal,  as  it  scuttles  off  to  its  burrow  with  an 
agility  hardly  to  be  expected  from  its  rather  quaint  and  squat 
little  figure. 

The  marmot  lives  in  colonies  of  varying  numbers,  but,  in 


SOME  BEASTS  AND  BIRDS  OF  THE  ALPS    51 

summer  at  least,  each  burrow  is  inhabited  by  a  single  family. 
Sometimes,  but  not  always,  the  same  burrow  is  used  as  a 
summer  and  as  a  winter  home.  The  change  from  summer 
to  winter  quarters,  wherever  it  takes  place,  involves  a  descent 
to  a  lower  level.  The  animals  prepare  for  winter  by  carrying 
into  their  sleeping-room  a  quantity  of  dry  grass,  with  which 
the  floor  is  entirely  covered,  so  as  to  provide  a  comfortable 
couch  for  the  two  or  three  families  that  usually  club  together 
at  this  season.  About  the  middle  of  October  the  burrow  is 
closed  up,  from  within,  by  a  closely  packed  wad,  composed 
chiefly  of  hay,  which,  however,  is  placed,  not  at  the  entrance 
of  the  burrow,  but  at  a  distance  of  one  or  two  feet  therefrom. 
In  the  snug  home  thus  carefully  prepared  the  whole  party, 
numbering  from  five  to  fifteen  individuals,  sleep  away  the  long 
winter  months,  unless  they  are  dug  out  by  some  ruthless  hunter. 
In  this  state  of  hibernation  the  vital  activities  are  almost  entirely 
suspended. 

The  White  Hare  {Lepus  variabilis)  and  the  Stoat  (^Foetorius 
ermifiea),  though  widely  dissociated  in  the  scheme  of  scientific 
classification,  and  related  often  as  hunter  and  hunted,  are  alike 
in  the  colour-change  they  undergo  from  brown  in  summer  to 
white  in  winter,  when  the  stoat  is  known  as  the  ermi?ie.  Both 
the  white  hare  and  the  stoat  range  in  the  Alps  to  a  height  of 
10,000  ft.  It  should  be  observed  that  the  white  hare  is  a 
totally  distinct  species  from  the  common  hare  {Lepus  timidus), 
though  the  two  species  often  mingle  in  the  upper  and  lower 
limits  of  their  respective  regions,  while  hybrids  between  them 
are  not  uncommon  in  a  natural  state. 

A  near  relative  of  the  stoat,  viz.  the  Stone-Marten  {Maries 
foina),  and  another  familiar  carnivore,  the  Common  Fox  {Canis 
vulpes),  are  sometimes  found  in  summer  at  a  great  elevation  in 
the  Alps.  The  mountain-dwelling  fox  has  usually  a  grey  appear- 
ance in  winter  owing  to  the  hairs  of  its  head  and  back  being  at 
that  season  tipped  with  white.  In  this  condition  of  fur  it  is 
known  as  the  '  Silver  Fox,'  and  the  skin  has  then  a  considerable 
commercial  value. 

The  little  Snow-mouse  {Arvicola  nivalis)  must  not  be  omitted 


52     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

from  our  list  of  animals  found  in  the  Alps.  It  was  first  dis- 
covered in  1841  by  Martins  on  the  Faulhorn.  Of  all  European 
mammals  it  is  the  one  which  lives  constantly  at  the  greatest 
elevation.  It  is  abundant  in  many  parts  of  the  Alps  at  an 
altitude  of  about  7000  ft.,  and  has  been  observed  on  the 
Finsteraarhorn  at  a  height  of  considerably  over  12,000  ft.  above 
the  sea-level.  How  it  contrives  to  support  life  through  the 
long  winter  is  something  of  a  puzzle.  It  does  not  hibernate 
like  the  marmot,  but  leads  an  active  existence  within  the 
tunnels  which  it  drives  between  the  deep-lying  snow  and  the 
surface  of  the  earth. 

B. — Some  Birds  of  the  Alps 

The  Lammergeier  {Gyphactus  barbatus),  the  finest  of  all  the 
European  birds  of  prey,  was  once  common  throughout  the 
entire  chain  of  the  Alps.  But  so  persecuted  has  it  been  that 
it  is  doubtful  whether  any  individuals  whatsoever  linger  in  some 
fastness  of  the  mountains,  though  it  is  possible  that  the  Italian 
Alps  still  harbour  some  specimens.  The  partly  vulturine  appear- 
ance of  the  bird  is  due  to  the  form  of  the  beak,  for  the  head 
and  neck  are  fully  clothed  with  feathers.  It  owes  the  name 
of  Bearded  Vulture  (as  also  its  scientinc  name)  to  the  short 
black  tuft  of  bristly  feathers  under  the  chin.  Well-authenticated 
instances  are  on  record  of  the  Lammergeier  having  attacked 
children,  while  popular  tradition  credits  it  with  a  propensity 
for  carrying  off  babies  to  its  eyrie,  when  the  chance  offers.  It 
does  not  seek  carrion  for  choice,  but  prefers  to  kill  its  own 
game.  If  this  be  of  large  size  (for  example,  a  chamois)  the 
bird's  method  of  attack  is  to  buffet  the  victim  with  its  wings, 
till  the  harassed  quarry  is  driven  over  a  precipice.  It  is 
especially  partial  to  bones  as  an  article  of  diet,  and,  when  they 
are  too  large  to  be  swallowed  whole,  it  is  said  to  drop  them 
from  a  height,  so  as  to  break  them  into  smaller  pieces.  This 
habit  of  the  bird  was  known  to  the  ancients.  According  to 
PHny  {Nat.  Hist.,  x.  3),  it  was  a  Lammergeier  which  caused  the 
death  of  ^Eschylus  by  dropping  a  tortoise  from  on  high  on  to 


SOME  BEASTS  AND  BIRDS  OF  THE  ALPS    53 

the  poet's  bald  head,  which  it  regarded  as  an  attractive  object 
on  which  to  break  the  obdurate  shell. 

The  following  account  is  given  by  Prof.  C.  Zeller  (in  his 
Alpentiere  im  Wechsel  der  Zeii,  Leipzig,  1892,  p.  40-1)  of  the 
last  Lammergeier  known  to  have  met  its  death  in  the  Swiss 
Alps  :  '  Its  home  was  the  Canton  of  the  Vallais,  where  for  the 
space  of  a  quarter  of  a  century  it  dwelt  among  the  jagged  peaks 
of  the  Lotschenthal.  The  inhabitants,  whose  cats  disappeared 
with  a  surprising  regularity,  knew  the  bird  intimately.  It  was 
a  female  of  advanced  age,  as  was  plain  from  its  almost  white 
under-parts,  and  was  familiarly  known  as  ' salt  Wyb  '  (the  Old 
Woman).  To  this  bird  the  well-known  eyrie  on  the  Hohgleifen 
(10,762  ft.)  once  belonged.  Her  mate  was  shot  in  1862. 
From  that  time  onwards  the  eyrie  was  unoccupied.  Whether 
it  was  that  no  fresh  suitor  offered  himself,  or  that  the  ageing 
matron  no  longer  cared  to  take  upon  herself  the  responsibilities  of 
a  family,  the  '  Old  Woman  '  led  a  lonely  widowed  Hfe  for  a  quarter 
of  a  century.  The  venerable  dame  of  the  Lotschenthal  Alps 
came  at  last  to  a  lamentable  end.  She  was  found  dead,  above 
Visp,  in  February,  1887,  beside  the  corpse  of  a  poisoned  fox. 
Her  skin  subsequently  found  an  abode  in  the  Natural  History 
Museum  at  Lausanne.' 

Though  now  much  rarer  in  the  Alps  than  formerly,  the 
Golden  Ea^le  {Aquila  chrysactus)  is  still  occasionally  to  be 
seen  there,  singly  or  in  the  company  of  its  mate,  wheeling  high 
in  wide  circles,  in  search  of  prey.  Hares,  ptarmigan,  foxes, 
marmots,  young  chamois,  yearly  yield  the  eagle  a  heavy  tribute, 
but  smaller  animals  are  also  brought  under  contribution.  As 
a  nesting-place  the  Golden  Eagle  usually  chooses  a  ledge  about 
half-way  up  some  great  mountain  cliff,  while  the  eyrie  is  almost 
invariably  protected  against  molestation  from  above  by  being 
placed  under  an  overhanging  bit  of  rock.  The  nest  is  a  bulky 
platform  of  fair-sized  sticks,  with  a  slight  covering  of  smaller 
boughs  and  of  roots. 

The  least  observant  of  travellers  in  the  Alps  can  hardly  fail  to 
have  his  attention  attracted  by  the  Alpine  Chough  {Pyrrhocorax 
alpinus),  a  bird  which  belongs  pre-eminently  to  the  upper  regions 


54    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  rock  and  snow.  Of  the  size  and  general  appearance  of  a 
jackdaw,  it  is  easily  distinguished  from  that  bird  by  its  slighter 
build,  its  slender  curved  yellow  bill,  and  its  coral-red  legs,  while 
the  cry,  a  shrill,  loud  chirrup,  which  it  constantly  emits,  also 
makes  it  easy  to  identify  at  a  considerable  distance.  The 
Alpine  Chough  usually  lives  in  large  bands,  and  the  evolutions 
of  a  flock  form  a  beautiful  sight.  In  summer  this  bird  is  often 
found  at  enormous  heights,  and  it  has  even  been  observed  on  the 
summit  of  Monte  Rosa  (15,217  ft.).  It  breeds  in  colonies,  at 
a  height  of  from  5000  to  9000  ft.,  on  precipitous  cliffs,  the  nest 
being  built  in  a  fissure  of  the  rock.  It  never  leaves  the  neighbour- 
hood of  the  mountains,  though  in  a  severe  winter  it  may  descend 
to  the  plains  at  their  base. 

Another  characteristic  bird  of  the  higher  regions  is  the 
Ptarmigan  {Lagopus  itiutus),  or  '  Schneehuhn,'  which  in  hot 
summer  weather  is  sometimes  found  high  up  on  the  neve.  Even 
in  winter — at  which  season  the  whiteness  of  the  plumage  which 
it  then  assumes  matches  that  of  the  snow-mantle — it  prefers  to 
remain  above  the  tree-limit,  though  it  occasionally  descends  to 
the  upper  fringe  of  the  pine  forests. 

Of  the  smaller  birds  that  are  to  be  found  in  the  snow  region 
perhaps  the  most  representative,  and  certainly  the  most  attractive, 
is  the  Wall-creeper  {Tichodroina  f/mraria),  which  has  been  aptly 
called  the  'humming-bird  of  the  Alps.'  The  brilliant  scarlet 
bands  and  the  pure  white  spots  on  the  wings  are  all  the  more 
effective  in  contrast  with  the  quiet  grey  and  black  of  its  general 
colouring ;  and  are  displayed  to  the  best  advantage  as  the  bird, 
its  wings  half-spread,  creeps  with  mouse-like  movements  over  the 
face  of  the  bare  and  precipitous  rocks  that  form  its  favourite 
haunt. 


CHAPTER  VI 

THE    ALPINE    FOLK 

HITHERTO  we  have  considered  the  Alps  in  themselves, 
as  a  great  mountain  chain,  rising  in  peaks,  or  sinking 
at  intervals  to  form  passes,  in  parts  covered  with  eternal  snow, 
yet  in  parts  affording  rich  pastures  to  cattle  in  summer ;  a 
chain  here  rugged,  there  smiling,  and  yet,  save  in  the  case 
of  the  cattle  driven  up  in  summer  to  the  high  pastures,  a 
chain  inhabited  but  by  a  few  living  creatures,  though  produc- 
ing many  glorious  flowers  born  only  to  waste  their  sweetness  on 
the  desert  air. 

We  must  now  go  on  to  speak  of  the  presence  of  man  in  the 
Alps,  and  of  the  influences  which  mountains  and  men  have 
exercised  on  each  other. 

We  have  not  the  slightest  idea  when  man  first  penetrated 
into  the  recesses  of  the  Alps,  nor  what  manner  of  men  they 
were  who  first  had  the  courage  to  explore  these  mysterious 
valleys  and  push  up  the  banks  of  rushing  mountain  torrents 
which  flowed  down  from  snows  that  seemed  to  touch  the  sky. 
A  few  skeletons  scattered  here  and  there,  some  pieces  of 
jewellery  of  a  singularly  artistic  nature,  possibly  a  few  rude 
monuments,  scarcely  now  to  be  distinguished  from  the  rocks 
carved  by  Nature  herself — that  is  all  we  know  of  the  first 
inhabitants  of  the  Alps.  If  they  had  chroniclers  who  set  forth 
their  varying  fortunes,  or  bards  who  sang  the  deeds  of  their 
doughty  heroes,  neither  chronicles  nor  epics  have  been 
preserved  for  future  generations.  Anthropologists  may  weave 
elaborate  and  somewhat  cobwebby  theories  as  to  the  origin  of  this 
primitive  folk,  based  on  the  length  of  the  heads  of  their  skeletons, 

£5 


56     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

or  the  size  of  the  limbs  belonging  thereto,  but  they  can  tell  us 
nothing  about  them  which  is  of  human  interest — their  speech, 
their  manners,  their  customs,  their  political  or  social  institu- 
tions. In  short,  the  aboriginal  inhabitants  of  the  Alps  are  to 
us  merely  a  set  of  specimens  shown  in  museums,  ticketed 
and  dust-covered,  and  devoid  of  attraction  save  to  a  few  learned 
pundits.  The  Alps  remained  for  centuries  a  dim,  mysterious 
region,  which  indeed  gave  rise  to  the  great  rivers  that  fertilised 
Central  Europe,  and  which  was  made  the  scene  of  many  a 
legendary  tale  or  adventure,  or  the  home  of  gods  and  demi- 
gods. But  of  its  actual  inhabitants  the  civilised  world,  then 
limited,  in  that  part  of  Europe,  to  Italy,  knew  nothing  definite 
till  their  attention  was  most  painfully  awakened  by  the  thunder- 
clap of  the  news  that  Hannibal,  the  Carthaginian,  had  succeeded 
in  forcing  his  way  across  them  (b.c.  218),  and  was  descending 
from  these  icy  heights  in  order  to  ravage  the  fair  plains  of 
Italy.  But  of  his  great  feat  of  courage  we  have  no  con- 
temporary accounts,  nor,  unluckily  for  us,  was  he  accompanied 
by  a  swarm  of  '  special  correspondents '  who  would  have 
unveiled  the  Alps  to  us  as  they  have  recently  unveiled  Lhassa. 
We  only  gather  echoes  of  this  passage  of  the  Alps,  echoes  that 
resound  in  writers  of  a  later  age,  and  that  have  been  wafted 
so  long  from  one  quarter  to  the  other  that  the  impression  left 
on  us  is  of  a  roaring  and  rushing  of  the  air  that  confuses 
instead  of  informing  our  minds. 

Still  later,  when  the  Romans  actually  came  into  contact  with 
the  inhabitants  of  the  Alps,  they  did  not  pay  much  attention 
to  them,  considering  them  as  '  barbarians '  unworthy  to  be 
noticed  by  men  of  superior  culture,  and  their  country  as  a 
horrible  desert  to  be  traversed  as  quickly  as  possible  in  order 
that  the  smiling  plains  on  the  other  slope  of  this  inhospitable 
chain  might  be  reached,  and  annexed  with  the  slightest  loss  of 
time  to  the  wide  dominions  of  these  'superior  persons.'  The 
main  object  of  Ceesar,  Pompey,  and  their  lieutenants  was  not 
to  tarry  in  the  Alps  in  order  to  study  the  language  and  customs 
of  their  inhabitants,  but  to  utilise  some  of  them  as  guides, 
porters,  and  so  on,  while  keeping  a  tight  hand  on  the  rest  in 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  57 

order  to  secure  the  safety  of  the  main  route  across  the  Alps. 
What  would  we  not  give  now  for  the  report  of  some  inquirer 
who,  like  the  well-known  Teuton  of  our  own  days,  had  caused 
himself  to  be  shut  up  in  a  cage  in  a  forest  with  a  phonograph, 
in  order  to  reproduce  with  the  utmost  nicety  the  language  of 
the  natives,  whether  men  or  monkeys !  Yet  the  conquest 
of  the  Alps  by  the  Romans  had  its  importance,  in  that  it 
first  brought  the  inhabitants  of  the  region  face  to  face  with 
a  civilised  race.  Political  relations  were  established  between 
them,  and  the  political  history  of  the  Alps  (of  which  more  in 
the  next  chapter)  had  begun. 

The  knowledge  of  the  Alpine  folk  possessed  by  the  outer 
world  has,  roughly  speaking,  kept  pace  with  the  closer  political 
relations  established  with  them.  The  original  inhabitants  gave 
way  before  or  were  absorbed  by  successive  streams  of  wanderers, 
following  each  other  like  the  waves  of  the  ocean.  Some  of 
these  tribes  pressed  ahead  and  were,  in  time,  lost  among  the 
inhabitants  of  the  plains  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  great  chain. 
Others,  less  energetic,  played  the  part  of  loiterers,  were  left 
behind  by  their  more  active  comrades,  and  so  settled  down  in 
the  higher  valleys  on  one  side  or  other  of  the  divide.  Others, 
finding  their  farther  progress  barred  by  the  advance-guard, 
or  being  repelled  with  indignation  as  troublesome  intruders, 
once  more,  reluctantly,  took  up  their  staves  and  retraced  their 
steps  till,  somewhere,  in  some  valley,  they  found  a  resting- 
place  for  their  weary  feet.  These  new  inhabitants  came  from 
all  sides,  repeatedly  crossed  each  other's  tracks,  and  wandered 
in  every  direction,  finally  reproducing  in  the  Alps,  from  the 
point  of  race  and  language,  phenomena  similar  to  those 
which  the  geologist  tells  us  appeared  there  long  before 
and  describes  under  the  names  of  inverted  and  folded  strata. 
As  the  centuries  rolled  by,  the  stronger  tribes  absorbed  those 
that,  for  any  reason,  were  more  weakly,  and  sometimes  even 
(to  the  confusion  of  future  historians  and  philologists)  assumed 
the  names  and  arms,  as  it  were,  of  the  absorbed  peoples. 
Tribal  characteristics  were  gradually  smoothed  out  and  reduced 
to  a  few  leading  types.     Yet  even  in  historic  days  a  counter- 


58     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

current  to  this  process  of  ironing  out  made  itself  felt.  Emigra- 
tions, though  on  a  smaller  scale,  took  place  from  time  to  time, 
for  instance  that  of  the  German-speaking  Vallaisans  in  the 
thirteenth  century  to  the  S.,  the  N.  and  the  E.,  so  that 
Vallaisan  traces,  whether  in  the  spoken  dialect  or  in  the 
local  names,  are  to  this  day  found  in  the  valleys  S.  of  Monte 
Rosa,  and  in  the  Val  Formazza,  and  in  the  glens  N.  of  the 
great  ice-clad  range  of  the  Bernese  Oberland,  and  far  away  in 
the  Orisons,  near  the  sources  of  the  Rhine.  Add  to  these 
belated  emigrations  the  shiftings  due  to  political  causes,  and 
we  shall  better  understand  how  it  comes  to  pass  that,  while 
in  the  Alps  there  are  '  natural  frontiers '  from  the  purely 
physical  point  of  view,  there  are  none  so  far  as  regards  the 
nationality  (as  shown  by  the  language)  of  their  inhabitants 
when  considered  as  articulate  beings  and  not  as  political  pawns 
or  units.  The  theory  of  natural  frontiers  has,  of  course,  an 
enormous  historical  importance,  and  is  often  based  on  the 
language  spoken  by  the  persons  whom  the  speaker  '  desires 
to  annex.'  Not  a  single  one  of  the  existing  Alpine  powers  can 
boast  of  ruling  all  the  folk  whose  mother-tongue  is  identical 
with,  or  similar  to,  its  own.  These  variations  from  a  cast-iron 
theory  are,  of  course,  due  to  historical  causes ;  in  other  words, 
are  the  result  of  the  processes  sketched  out  above,  which  are 
still,  to  a  smaller  or  a  greater  extent,  going  on  under  our  own 
eyes.  The  Alps,  in  short,  far  from  having  hemmed  the 
'  Wandering  of  the  Nations  '  at  any  date  from  the  fifth  century 
onwards,  have  rather  served  as  a  great  highway,  with  many 
branching  byways,  which  have  led  the  wanderers  up  and  down, 
right  and  left,  in  zigzags  and  by  straight  lines,  till  the  labyrinth 
seems  to  lack  any  clue  whatsoever.  Yet  there  is  one,  that 
namely  afforded  by  history,  though  it  only  enables  us  to  unravel 
the  tangled  skein  with  much  labour  and  trouble,  and  then 
with  merely  a  high  degree  of  probability  and  not  with  absolute 
certainty.  At  first  sight,  however,  it  seems  as  if  the  exceptions 
to  a  few  general  principles  are  very  insignificant,  though,  as  is 
usually  the  case,  the  more  closely  we  study  a  subject  the  more 
intricate  does  it  appear  to  be. 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  59 

In  the  next  chapter  the  historical  events  which  have  produced 
this  shot-silk  result  will  be  set  forth  in  outUne,  for  many 
volumes  would  be  required  to  describe  them  in  detail,  so  that 
the  patience  of  the  reader  would  give  way  perhaps  even  before 
that  of  the  author  and  the  publisher.  Here  let  us  try  to  get 
some  general  idea  of  the  existing  state  of  things  from  several 
points  of  view,  political,  linguistic,  and  religious,  and  then  we 
can  better  appreciate  the  rather  numerous  exceptions  which 
sometimes,  though  not  invariably,  serve  to  impress  a  rule  on 
the  mind   of  an  industrious  student. 


I.  As  regards  political  allegiance  the  Alpine  folk  are  partly 
Republicans  (not  all  of  the  same  hue),  partly  imperialists,  and 
partly  royalists.  The  judicious  reader  may  draw  varying  con- 
clusions from  this  seeming  impartiality  in  the  high  sphere  of 
politics.  Some  may  point  to  the  connection  between  the  free  air 
of  the  Alps  and  that  of  a  republican  form  of  government.  Others 
may  plead  that  one  of  these  two  Alpine  Republics  is  of  very  modern 
date,  to  which  reproach  a  stickler  for  accuracy  may  retort  that 
the  same  is  even  truer  of  the  two  royal  governments,  while  a 
third  critic  may  point  out  that,  after  all,  the  single  Empire  is 
not  in  much  better  case.  Yet  allowing  that  the  present  state 
of  things  is  on  the  whole  very  modern,  the  reactionary  as  well 
as  the  revolutionist  may  still  hope  that  soon  there  will  be  a 
change  in  one  or  other  direction.  In  point  of  antiquity  the 
Swiss  Republic  leads  the  way,  having  been  founded  in  1291, 
though  it  was  later  when  the  Cantons,  which  extend  in  whole 
or  in  part  over  the  great  divide  of  the  Alps,  entered  the 
Confederation  as  full  members — both  Tessin  and  the  Orisons 
in  1803  and  the  Vallais  in  18 15,  their  wide  territories  being 
separated  by  the  narrow  gorge  of  Uri,  one  of  the  three  original 
Cantons.  Over  five  centuries  younger  than  the  Swiss  Con- 
federation are  the  Empire  of  Austria  (the  Emperor  Francis  11. 
assumed  the  title  of  Emperor  of  Austria  in  1804,  though  he 
did  not  resign  that  of  Holy  Roman  Emperor  till  1806)  and 
the  kingdom   of  Bavaria  (1806).      Still  more  modern  are  the 


6o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

kingdom  of  Italy  (1861,  while  Venetia  was  won  in  1866)  and 
the  French  Republic  (1870). 

Probably  the  Alpine  state  which  rules  the  most  extensive 
portion  of  the  Alps  is  Italy,  which  practically  holds  their  entire 
S.  slope,  with  the  rather  important  exceptions  of  Tessin  (Swiss) 
and  the  Trentino  (Austrian).  On  the  other  slope  France  claims 
nearly  the  whole  W.  or  N.  slope  of  the  Western  Alps,  save  a  bit 
of  the  Vallais ;  the  Swiss  Confederation  the  whole  of  the  Central 
Alps,  with  a  bit  (the  Lower  Vallais)  of  the  Western  Alps,  and 
Austria  practically  the  whole  of  the  Eastern  Alps.  Bavaria's  share 
takes  in  a  bit  of  the  Eastern  Alps  (N.  of  the  Vorarlberg  and  the 
Tyrol),  which  a  German  writer  plaintively  describes  as  '  only 
a  portion  of  the  N.  slope  of  a  part  of  the  low  limestone  range,' 
and  as  '  rather  an  approach  to  the  Alps  than  a  fragment  of  the 
Alps  themselves.'  Yet  this  small  fragment  is  the  only  region  of 
the  Alps,  high  or  low,  that  actually  belongs  to  the  German  Father- 
land, a  fact  which  arouses  different  sentiments  in  different  men. 

Such  are  the  main  lines  on  which  the  Alps  are  at  present 
partitioned  among  the  great  Alpine  powers.  France  (and 
naturally  Bavaria)  alone  now  owns  not  a  yard  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  divide  save  possibly  a  bit  of  the  top  of  Mont  Blanc. 
The  three  other  states,  however,  all  extend  their  claws  across 
the  physical  frontier. 

Let  us  take  the  case  of  Italy  first.  On  looking  at  a  detailed 
map  of  the  Maritime  Alps  the  eye  is  at  once  struck  by  the 
fact  that  a  considerable  region  S.  of  the  main  chain  (which 
here  runs  E.  and  W.)  is  now  included  in  Italian  territory. 
This  region  became  Italian  for  two  entirely  different  reasons 
which  apply  to  its  two  divisions.  The  portion  which,  roughly 
speaking,  lies  W.  of  the  Col  de  Tenda  and  the  Roja  valley, 
though  it  is  E.  of  the  main  divide,  takes  in  the  heads  of  several 
Alpine  glens — those  of  Castiglione  and  Mollieres  are  affluents 
of  the  Tinee,  itself  an  affluent  of  the  Var,  while  those  of 
Boreon,  Finestre,  and  Gordolasca  are  tributaries  of  the  Vesubie, 
which  joins  the  Var  a  little  below  its  meeting  with  the  Tinee. 
It  is  believed,  though  the  matter  is  wrapped  in  some  obscurity, 
that  all  these  glens  (which  formed  part  of  the  county  of  Nice) 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  6i 

were  in  i860  left  by  France  to  Italy  as  a  graceful  concession 
to  the  hunter-king,  Victor  Emmanuel  n.,  who  had  all  the 
hunting  rights  on  the  N.  side  of  the  divide,  and  desired  also 
to  have  those  on  the  S.  slope.  The  history  of  the  other  portion 
is  quite  different.  The  Roja  valley,  descending  from  the  Col 
de  Ten  da  to  the  sea  at  Ventimiglia,  is  E.  of  the  main  divide 
of  the  Alps  that  runs  S.  from  the  Mont  Clapier  to  the 
Turbie  spur.  But  Italy  now  possesses  only  the  lower  (Venti- 
miglia) and  the  upper  (Tenda)  thirds  of  the  glen.  The  middle 
bit  (Fontan,  Saorge,  and  Breil,  all  on  the  E.  slope  of  the  main 
divide  of  the  Alps)  belongs  to  France,  which  is  thus  able  to  block 
the  valley,  and  to  prevent  (if  it  wishes)  the  construction  of  the 
railway  from  the  S.  foot  of  the  Col  de  Tenda  right  down  the 
Roja  valley  to  Ventimiglia.  The  truth  is  that  this  middle  third 
of  the  valley  formed  part  of  the  county  of  Nice,  having  about 
1250  separated  itself  from  the  rest  of  the  valley  and  done 
homage  to  the  Count  of  Provence,  from  whom  the  House 
of  Savoy  got  the  county  of  Nice  in  1388,  making  it  over  to 
France  in  i860.  But  the  upper  and  lower  thirds  remained  in 
the  hands  of  the  original  lords  of  the  whole  valley,  the  Counts 
of  Ventimiglia  (in  the  case  of  the  upper  third  of  a  cadet  branch, 
the  Counts  of  Tenda),  and  from  them  passed  in  two  bits  (the  lower, 
after  belonging  to  the  Grimaldi  family  and  Genoa,  in  1815,  and 
the  upper  bit  in  1575)  to  the  House  of  Savoy.  Thus  what  is 
certainly  an  anomaly  of  practical  importance  is  shown  to  have  its 
roots  in  the  far  past.  In  i860  France  did  get  practically  all  the 
county  of  Nice,  but  no  part  of  the  county  of  Ventimiglia  or  of 
Tenda.  Two  other  small  fragments  of  territory  on  the  '  wrong  ' 
{i.e.  N.)  slope  of  the  Alps  also  belong  to  Italy — the  wild  Val  di 
Lei,  whose  stream  runs  down  to  the  Swiss  Avers  valley,  and  so 
to  the  Hinter  Rhine,  and  the  fertile  hay-glen  of  Livigno, 
through  which  the  Spol  descends  to  join  the  Inn  in  the  Lower 
Engadine.  These  two  districts  came  to  Italy  in  1859,  as  the 
Val  di  Lei  was  in  the  county  of  Chiavenna,  and  Livigno  in 
that  of  Bormio,  both,  with  the  Valtelline,  then  passing,  as 
included  in  '  Lombardy,' to  the  House  of  Savoy,  which  in  1861 
obtained  the  crown  of  united  Italy. 


62     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Surprising  as  it  may  seem,  the  possessions  of  the  Swiss  Con- 
federation on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps  are  more  extensive  than 
those  of  Italy  on  the  other  slope.  In  the  thirteenth  century  the 
small  German-speaking  villages  of  Simplon  (Simpeln)  and 
Gondo  (Gunz  or  Ruden)  were  colonised  from  the  Vallais,  and, 
with  it,  became  Swiss  in  1815.  More  important  is  the  Italian- 
speaking  Canton  of  Tessin,  formed  in  1803  out  of  various  fifteenth 
and  sixteenth  century  conquests  of  the  Swiss  :  the  portions  best- 
known  to  foreigners  are  the  Val  Leventina,  down  which  roars 
the  St.  Gotthard  train  after  passing  through  the  great  tunnel,  and 
the  frequented  resorts  of  Lugano  and  Locarno.  The  Swiss  Con- 
federation also  holds  (since  the  formation  of  the  Canton  of  the 
Grisons  in  1803)  three  Itahan-speaking  valleys,  those  of  Mesocco 
(with  its  tributary  of  Calanca)  that  joins  the  Val  Leventina 
at  Bellinzona,  and,  farther  E.,  the  better-known  glens  of 
Bregaglia  and  Poschiavo.  In  1480  Mesocco  entered  the  Ober 
Bund  (one  of  the  Three  Rsetian  Leagues)  through  its  lords, 
the  Trivulzio  family  of  Milan  (who  in  1549  sold  all  their 
rights  to  the  valley  dwellers),  while  the  other  glens  respectively 
in  1367  and  1408,  through  their  lord,  the  Bishop  of  Coire, 
became  part  of  the  League  of  God's  House.  Yet  another 
Grisons  valley,  the  upper  bit  of  that  of  Munster,  close  to  Livigno, 
and  watered  by  the  Ram,  an  affluent  of  the  upper  Adige,  lies  on 
the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps:  it,  too,  came  to  the  Grisons  (1762) 
as  heir  of  the  Bishop  of  Coire,  and  as  its  inhabitants  are  mostly 
Ladin-speaking,  we  see  that  the  Swiss  territories  on  the  S,  slope 
of  the  Alps  are  occupied  by  three  populations  speaking  three 
distinct  tongues. 

Finally,  Ajistria  holds  since  18 15  the  whole  tract  S.  of  the 
Brenner  Pass,  which  practically  consists  of  the  territories  of  the 
secularised  (1803)  bishoprics  of  Brixen  (German-speaking  save 
the  Ladin-speaking  folk  of  the  Groden  valley)  and  of  Trent 
(Italian-speaking,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  German  islets). 
Austria,  too,  holds  the  considerable  Slavonic-speaking  region  in 
and  near  the  Isonzo  valley,  W.  of  the  main  chain,  as  well  as  a 
more  extensive  territory  of  the  same  kind  E.  of  the  divide. 

Such  is  the  present  political  condition  of  the  Alpine  portions 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  63 

of  the  great  Alpine  states,  which,  it  should  be  noticed,  are  far 
from  being  exclusively  Alpine  (as  were  smaller  states  in  the 
Middle  Ages,  like  the  Dauphine,  the  Vallais,  the  Grisons,  the 
Tyrol,  the  bishopric  of  Trent,  etc.),  for  all  possess  wide  plains  as 
well  as  Alpine  districts. 

It  is  only  possible  to  estimate  roughly  the  present  number  of 
the  inhabitants  of  the  Alpine  districts.  They  probably  do  not 
exceed  9,000,000  in  all.  About  3,000,000  are  German-speaking, 
while  the  French-speaking  folk  may  be  put  at  about  2,300,000, 
being  slightly  exceeded  by  those  who  claim  Italian  as  their 
mother-tongue.  The  Slavonic-speaking  dwellers  of  the  Alps 
number  less  than  a  million.  The  remainder  speak  some  dialect 
of  a  quaint  old  tongue,  either  Romonsch  (the  Vorder  Rhine 
valley)  or  Ladin  (Engadine,  Groden  valley,  and  Friuli). 


2.  These  remarks  as  to  the  numbers  of  the  inhabitants  of  the 
Alps  naturally  lead  us  on  to  consider  the  different  mother-tongues 
spoken  at  present  by  the  Alpine  folk.  Speaking  generally,  we 
may  say  that  while  Alpine  Italy  is  almost  wholly  Italian-speaking, 
Alpine  France  speaks  only  French,  and  Alpine  Bavaria  only 
German.  But  Alpine  Switzerland  speaks  German,  French,  and 
Italian,  as  well  as  the  singular  Romonsch  and  Ladin  dialects, 
while  Alpine  Austria,  though  mainly  German-speaking,  contains 
also  a  very  fair  number  of  Italian-speaking  and  Slavonic-speaking 
folk.  However,  limiting  ourselves  to  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps,  we 
may  say  roughly  that  the  Western  Alps  are  mainly  French-speak- 
ing, while  the  Central  Alps  revel  in  four  or  five  tongues,  as  noted 
above,  though  the  Eastern  Alps  can  only  boast  of  German,  Italian, 
and  Slavonic.  Of  course,  in  the  Alps,  dialects  of  these  tongues 
are  mostly  spoken,  the  purer  forms  being  confined  to  the  plains. 

Yet,  just  as  we  found  that  politically  Italy,  the  Swiss  Con- 
federation, and  Austria  owned  districts  on  the  S.  slope  of  the 
Alpine  chain,  so  numerous  linguistic  islets  are  to  be  discovered 
in  the  midst  of  populations  speaking  other  tongues. 

In  order,  as  it  were,  to  vary  a  little  the  dull  uniformity  of  the 
prevalence  of  Italian  only  in  Italy,  there  are  within  the  political 


64     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

frontiers  of  that  land  two  regions  wherein  French  is  still  the 
language  of  the  natives,  though  the  Government  ofificials  are 
doing  all  they  can  to  suppress  it.  The  former  of  these  two  regions 
takes  in  several  glens  W.  and  S.W.  of  Turin.  The  Val  Pellice 
and  the  Val  Germanasca  have  simply  kept  the  French  tongue 
which  the  Vaudois  or  Waldensians  brought  with  them  when  they 
migrated  thither  from  Dauphine.  Other  valleys,  such  as  the 
upper  Val  Varaita  (just  S.  of  the  Monte  Viso),  the  Chisone 
valley  (above  Pinerolo),  and  the  Dora  Riparia  valley  (Cesanne, 
Oulx,  Bardonneche,  and  Exilles,  all  near  the  Mont  Cenis  rail- 
way), still  contain  a  French-speaking  population,  because  for 
many  ages  they  formed  part,  from  the  political  point  of  view,  of 
Dauphine,  and  were  only  gained  in  17 13  (as  we  shall  see  in  the 
next  chapter)  by  the  House  of  Savoy.  Even  more  interesting 
is  the  case  of  the  valley  of  Aosta,  with  its  tributary  glens. 
Enclosed  by  the  lofty  ranges  of  Mont  Blanc,  the  Mont  Velan, 
the  Matterhorn,  and  the  Grand  Paradis,  and  reached  as  easily 
from  the  French-speaking  part  of  the  Vallais  over  the  Great  St. 
Bernard  Pass,  as  from  the  equally  French-speaking  district  of 
the  Tarentaise  over  the  Little  St.  Bernard,  one  would  really  be 
astonished  if  it  had  not  kept  its  French  dialect.  For,  as  E.  A. 
Freeman  was  never  tired  of  urging,  this  valley  is  simply  a  piece 
of  Burgundy  on  the  other  side  of  the  Alps.  Since  575  a.d., 
when  it  was  snatched  from  the  Lombards  by  the  Franks,  Aosta 
has,  with  scarcely  a  break,  always  belonged  to  masters  who  ruled 
on  the  other  slope  of  the  Alps.  Since  the  House  of  Savoy 
(which  has  held  it  since  about  1025)  in  i860  gave  up  the  cradle 
of  its  dynasty  to  France,  Aosta  is  the  last  fragment  that  remains 
to  it  of  its  former  great  Burguudian  dominions  on  both  sides  of 
Alps.  Thus  all  the  French-speaking  districts  in  Italy  are  simply 
relics  of  former  Dauphine  or  Savoy  supremacy  on  the  '  wrong ' 
slope  of  the  Alps. 

More  singularly  there  exist  also  a  few  German-speaking  villages 
within  the  boundaries  of  political  Italy.  N.  of  Domo  d'Ossola, 
at  the  Italian  foot  of  the  Simplon  Pass,  there  runs  up  a  long, 
narrow  valley,  like  a  wedge  thrust  in  between  the  Vallais  (W.) 
and  Tessin   (E.) — both  Swiss.      This  glen  is  watered   by  the 


o 


•-* 
z 

o 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  65 

Toce  or  Tosa  river.  Its  highest  portion  bears  the  special  name 
of  Val  Formazza  or  Pommat  valley,  and  there  is  settled  (and 
also  at  the  neighbouring  villages  of  Agaro  and  Salecchio)  a 
German-speaking  colony,  which  came  from  the  Vallais  in  the 
thirteenth  century.  It  still  preserves  its  dialect,  and  is  a  curious 
survival.  In  turn,  before  1253  it  sent  an  offshoot  E.  over  the 
mountain  ridges  to  Bosco  (Gurin),  at  the  head  of  one  of  the  side 
glens  of  the  Val  Maggia,  above  Locarno  :  this  odd  little  settle- 
ment now  numbers  266  souls,  of  whom  260  still  speak  Vallaisan 
German.  We  have  mentioned  above  the  similar  colonies  at  the 
villages  of  Simplon  and  Gondo,  a  little  above  Domo,  on  the 
Simplon  road,  but  these  have  always  remained  Swiss,  Bosco 
becoming  Swiss  in  15 12,  while  the  Val  Formazza  passed  to  the 
House  of  Savoy  in  1743.  Below  Domo,  in  the  Tosa  valley,  is 
Ornavasso  (Urnasch),  originally  a  Vallaisan  colony,  from  Naters, 
opposite  Brieg,  but  now  quite  Italianised. 

More  important  numerically  are  another  set  of  Vallaisan 
German-speaking  colonies,  which  occupy  the  heads  of  some  of 
the  Italian  valleys  S.  and  E.  of  the  great  snowy  mass  of  Monte 
Rosa.  Such  are  the  Val  de  Lys  (Gressoney),  the  Val  Sesia 
(Alagna),  and  the  A''al  Anzasca  (Macugnaga),  together  with 
the  isolated  villages  of  Rima  (head  of  the  Val  Sermenza)  and  of 
Rimella  (head  of  the  Val  Mastallone).  The  old  Gothic  four- 
teenth-century church  of  the  parish  of  Macugnaga  is  a  striking 
relic  of  this  indefatigable  colonisation  from  the  Vallais. 

Much  farther  to  the  E.,  on  a  high  mountain  shelf,  is  the 
German-speaking  settlement,  N.  of  Vicenza,  and  N.W.  of 
Bassano,  known  as  the  Sette  Comuni  (the  seven  Communes 
or  parishes),  viz.  Asiago,  Rotzo,  Roana,  GalUo,  Foza,  Enego, 
and  San  Giacomo  di  Lusiana.  Of  the  25,000  inhabitants  com- 
paratively few  (save  at  Rotzo  and  at  Roana)  still  speak  German, 
which  is  rapidly  disappearing,  or  has  already  disappeared,  in  the 
other  villages.  It  is  a  much-disputed  point  whether  this  popula- 
tion represents  the  remains  of  an  Ostrogothic  or  an  Alamannian 
occupation  of  the  district,  or  whether  the  original  inhabitants 
were  Swabians  planted  here  to  guard  the  Alpine  passes ;  they 
name  their  tongue  'Cimbro.'  In  any  case  they  have  no  con- 
E 


66     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

nection  with  the  Vallais.  In  the  Tredici  Comuni  (thirteen 
Communes)  N.  of  Verona,  the  former  prevalence  of  German 
is  now  said  to  have  completely  vanished,  as  it  has  in  the 
city  of  Trent  itself,  the  lower  portion  of  which  was  exclusively 
German  as  late  as  1483  ;  so  says  Felix  Faber  (Schmid),  a  Domini- 
can friar  from  Ulm,  in  his  account  of  his  pilgrimage  to  the  Holy 
Land,  while  adding  that  a  few  years  previously  the  Germans  in 
Trent  were  not  many  in  number. 

The  dialect  spoken  in  Friuli  is  a  distant  relative  of  the  Ladin 
tongue  spoken  in  the  Engadine  and  the  Groden  valley,  of  which 
we  shall  have  something  to  say  presently,  and  so  we  have  another 
interesting  historical  anomaly.  In  this  district,  too,  there  are 
several  scattered  German-speaking  villages,  viz.  those  of  Sappada 
or  Bladen  (1322  souls),  Sauris  or  die  Zahre  (760  souls),  and  of 
Timau  or  Tischelwang  (1220  souls),  the  highest  village  on  the 
S.  slope  of  the  Plocken  Pass.  In  all  three  places  an  antiquated 
Tyrolese-German  (in  Timau  strongly  influenced  by  the  Friulan 
dialect,  while  Sauris  has  the  least  impure  German)  is  spoken, 
and  as  all  three  are  expressly  mentioned  as  existing  in  the  last 
quarter  of  the  thirteenth  century,  it  would  seem  that  they  were 
then  (if  not  earlier)  occupied  by  colonies  from  the  Tyrol. 

It  is  scarcely  necessary  in  the  case  of  the  Swiss  Confederation 
to  do  more  than  state  the  fact  that  its  Italian-speaking  popula- 
tion inhabits  the  canton  of  Tessin  (Swiss  in  1803),  together  with 
the  Grisons  valleys  of  Bregaglia  and  Poschiavo  (Swiss  in  1803). 
The  dividing  line  in  the  Alpine  region  between  the  French- 
speaking  (W.)  and  the  German-speaking  (E.)  folk  runs  S.  from 
Fribourg  (two-thirds  French-speaking)  between  Charmey  (W.) 
and  Jaun  (E.)  in  the  Jogne  valley,  then  between  Chateau  d'Oex 
(W.)  and  Saanen  or  Gessenay  (E.)  in  the  upper  Sarine  or  Saane 
valley,  and,  after  passing  between  the  Ormonts  valley  (W.)  and 
Gsteig  or  Chatelet  in  the  upperrhost  branch  of  the  Saane  valley, 
(E.),  touches  the  summit  of  the  Oldenhorn.  The  line  of  demar- 
cation then  runs  E.  to  near  the  Wildstrubel,  where  it  again  bends 
S.  to  cut  across  the  Vallais  a  little  E.  of  Sierre  or  Siders  (that 
town  has  a  very  slight  majority  of  French-speaking  folk),  above 
Sion  or  Sitten,  and  then   to   follow   the   ridge   separating  the 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  ^7 

Anniviers  or  Zinal  valley  (W.)  from  that  of  Turtmann  (E.),  and 
so  along  the  crests  of  the  Weisshorn  (leaving  the  Zermatt  valley 
on  the  E.)  and  the  Dent  Blanche  to  the  Italian  frontier,  which 
is  reached  near  the  Dent  d'Herens  and  the  Matterhorn. 

More  interesting  in  Switzerland  is  the  question  of  the  popula- 
tion which  speaks  either  the  Romonsch  or  the  Ladin  dialects. 
This  now  numbers  38,651  souls,  of  which  36,472  reside  in  the 
Canton  of  the  Grisons.  Much  nonsense  has  been  written  about 
this  ancient  tongue,  which  is  simply  a  Romance  dialect  that  has 
not  kept  pace  with  its  elder  sisters,  French,  Italian,  etc.  It  is 
not  improbable  that  it  represents  the  tongue  of  emigrants  from 
Lombardy  pushed  up  into  the  mountains  by  stronger  tribes 
behind,  and  finally  passing  through  the  Engadine  so  as  to  reach 
the  Rhine  valley,  W.  of  Coire.  The  dialect,  specially  named 
Romonsch,  is  spoken  in  the  Vorder  Rhine  valley  (or  Biindner 
Oberland),  which  runs  from  the  Oberalp  Pass  past  Disentis  and 
Ilanz  to  Coire :  it  is  itself  subdivided  into  two  patois,  which 
prevail  respectively  in  the  two  valleys  mentioned  as  well  as  in 
the  lower  reach  of  the  Hinter  Rhine  valley.  The  tongue  of  the 
region  above  Thusis,  which  comprises  the  valleys  leading  to  the 
Albula  and  Julier  Passes  respectively,  is  a  transitional  one.  Once 
across  either  pass,  in  the  Engadine,  or  upper  valley  of  the  Inn, 
we  find  that  most  of  that  well-known  district  uses  the  Ladin 
dialect,  which  is  by  far  the  most  living  form  of  this  ancient 
tongue.  An  exception  is  formed  by  the  Samnaun  glen,  in  the 
Lower  Engadine,  a  valley  with  357  inhabitants,  which,  no  doubt 
owing  to  its  easier  communications  with  the  Tyrol  than  with 
Switzerland,  now  speaks  Tyrolese-German,  though  a  hundred 
years  ago  it  was  Ladin-speaking,  and  the  place-names  are  still 
Ladin.  It  is  from  the  Lower  Engadine  that  the  Ladin  language 
has  penetrated  to  the  upper  or  Swiss  portion  of  the  Miinster 
valley,  which  sends  its  waters  to  the  upper  Adige. 

In  this  tolerably  extensive  Romance-speaking  region  of  Eastern 
Switzerland  there  are,  however,  a  number  of  German-speaking 
islets,  which  are  all  (save  the  Samnaun  valley,  mentioned  above) 
in  the  Romonsch  district.  The  smallest  and  the  most  isolated 
is  the  parish  of  Obersaxen  (521  out  of  652  souls),  to  the  S.W. 


6S     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  Ilanz,  and  above  the  S.  bank  of  the  Vorder  Rhine.  A 
similar  colony,  which  existed  from  the  fourteenth  to  the  sixteenth 
centuries,  in  the  Calfeisen  or  upper  Tamina  glen,  above  Pfafers,  has 
left  traces  of  its  former  existence  in  many  Teutonic  place-names. 
The  most  extensive  is  that  of  the  Rheinwald,  or  upper  valley 
of  the  Hinter  Rhine  (86 1  out  of  899  souls),  which  in  turn  has 
sent  colonies  N.  over  mountain  ridges  to  the  Vals  (713  out 
of  736  souls)  and  Safien  (558  out  of  585  souls)  glens,  both  of 
which  are  tributaries  of  the  Vorder  Rhine.  It  seems  most 
probable  that  all  these  inhabitants  formed  part  of  one  of  the 
great  thirteenth-century  emigrations  from  the  Vallais,  and  the 
dialect  to-day  (as  the  present  writer  can  testify  from  personal 
experience)  certainly  resembles  that  now  spoken  in  the  Upper 
Vallais.  (Davos,  too,  was  originally  a  thirteenth-century  German- 
speaking  colony  from  the  Vallais). 

In  fact,  all  the  glens  opening  S.  of  the  main  Vorder  Rhine 
valley  offer  a  most  remarkable  and  intricate  enlacement  in  point 
of  language  as  well  as  in  point  of  religion.  Going  from  W.  to 
E.  we  find  that  the  Medels  valley  (through  which  the  Middle 
Rhine  flows  to  join  the  Vorder  Rhine,  under  Disentis)  is 
Romonsch-speaking  and  Romanist,  as  is  the  next  inhabited 
valley  to  the  E.  (for  the  Somvix  glen  is  uninhabited  save  in 
summer),  Vrin,  the  S.W.  and  principal  branch  of  the  Lugnetz 
valley  which  descends  to  the  Vorder  Rhine,  at  Ilanz.  But  the 
S.E.  branch,  or  Vals  glen,  of  the  Lugnetz  valley  is  German- 
speaking  and  Romanist,  while  the  next  glen  to  the  E.,  that  of 
Safien,  is  also  German-speaking,  but  in  religion  Protestant.  Yet 
in  the  next  valley  to  the  E.,  that  of  Domleschg,  or  the  /ower 
Hinter  Rhine  valley,  through  which  passes  the  Albula  railway 
from  Reichenau  to  Thusis,  the  confusion  is  complete,  both  as 
to  language  and  as  to  religion,  so  that  one  can  never  be  quite 
certain  which  tongue  is  spoken  or  which  faith  is  professed  in 
any  given  village.  The  middle  reach  of  the  Hinter  Rhine  valley, 
or  the  valley  of  Schams,  is  Romonsch-speaking  and  Protestant, 
but  the  upper  Hinter  Rhine  valley,  or  the  Rheinwald,  is  German- 
speaking  and  Protestant.  Later  on  (Chapter  xiii.,  Section  13), 
when  describing  the  Albula  Group,  we  shall  have  occasion  to 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  69 

speak  again  about  one  of  the  side  valleys  of  the  Hinter  Rhine, 
that  of  Avers.  The  lower  half  of  this  valley,  or  Val  Ferrera 
(which  is  divided  from  the  upper  half  by  a  series  of  fine,  rose- 
coloured,  marble  gorges,  now  pierced  by  a  good  carriage  road), 
has  162  inhabitants,  out  of  whom  153  speak  Romonsch,  and 
161  are  Protestants,  while  in  former  days  this  bit  belonged  to 
that  of  the  Three  Rsetian  Leagues  which  was  named  the  Grey 
League.  On  the  other  hand,  the  upper  half  of  the  valley,  or 
the  Avers  proper,  has  204  inhabitants,  out  of  whom  194  speak 
Vallaisan  German,  and  198  are  Protestants,  while  in  the  old 
times  it  belonged  to  the  League  of  God's  House.  There  can 
be  scarcely  another  Alpine  glen  which  exhibits  such  strange 
variations  in  its  political  history  and  language. 

Let  us  now  go  on  to  Austria^ '  where,  too,  we  find  both 
Ladin  and  German  islets  in  the  midst  of  a  population  of 
another  tongue.  The  Ladin  portions  (15,828  souls)  lie  in  the 
old  bishopric  of  Brixen,  between  German-speaking  and  Lalian- 
speaking  districts,  and  include  some  of  the  glens  well  known 
to  wanderers  among  the  Tyrolese  Dolomites — those  of  Groden 
(upper  part),  Gader,  Fassa  (the  upper  Avisio  glen),  and  Ampezzo 
(Cortina),  though  the  two  last  named  are  more  Italianised  than 
the  other  couple,  while  Buchenstein,  or  the  upper  Cordevole 
valley,  above  Caprile,  is,  it  is  said,  still  less  Ladin.  Historical 
students  will  regret  the  probable  early  extinction  (save  in 
the  Engadine  and  in  the  Groden  and  Gader  valleys)  of  this 
quaint  Ladin  dialect,  which  deserves  to  be  preserved  most 
carefully  as  a  monument  historique.  It  is  now  generally  believed 
that  the  dialect  spoken  in  Friuli  is  a  kind  of  Ladin,  and  not  a 
rough  Italian  patois. 

More  curious  are,  perhaps,  the  fairly  numerous  German- 
speaking  islets  in  the  parts  of  the  old  bishopric  of  Trent,  or 
the  Italian-speaking  S.  Tyrol.  To  the  N.  of  Trent  there  are 
a  few  scattered  villages  in  the  Val  di  Non  (Nonsberg),  which 
leads  up  along  the  Noce  towards  the  Tonale  Pass,  and  so  to  the 
upper  Oglio  valley  or  Val  Camonica :  these  German-speaking 
hamlets,  Unsere  Hebe  Frau  im  Walde  or  Senale  (309  out  of  310 
souls),  St.  Felix  or  San  Felice  (317  out  of  337  souls),  Laurein  or 


70     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Lauregno  (513  out  of  516  souls),  and  Proveis  or  Proves  (497 
out  of  516  souls),  are  situated  amidst  an  Italian-speaking  folk 
(though  not  far  from  the  German-speaking  populations  to  the 
N.)  and  on  the  most  northerly  slopes  of  the  Val  di  Non. 

E.  of  Trent  and  N.E.  of  Pergine  (on  the  Val  Sugana  railway) 
lies  the  Fersen  or  Fersina  valley  (Val  dei  Mocheni),  in  which 
there  are  a  number  of  German-speaking  villages  in  the  midst  of 
an  Italian-speaking  population — Gereut  or  Frassilongo,  Eichleit 
or  Roveda,  St.  Franziskus  or  San  Francesco,  St.  Felix  or  San 
Felice,  and  Palu  or  Palai — of  181 9  inhabitants  1537  speak 
German,  Palu  boasting  indeed  of  423  German-speaking  dwellers 
out  of  a  population  of  432.  The  two  hamlets  bearing  saints' 
names  had  their  origin  in  the  twelfth  century  as  a  colony  of 
miners,  but  the  others  are  said  to  be  of  Lombard  or  Prankish 
descent.  To  the  S.  of  the  Fersen  valley,  and  so  to  the  S.E. 
of  Trent,  is  the  village  of  Lusarn  or  Luserna,  with  675  German- 
speaking  inhabitants  out  of  a  total  of  699.  It  is  said  to  be  a 
thirteenth  century  colony  established  here  by  the  prince-bishop  of 
Trent,  like  its  neighbour  San  Sebastiano,  but  the  latter,  a  village 
in  the  parish  of  Folgareit  or  Folgaria,  seems  now  officially  to 
have  only  two  German-speaking  inhabitants,  though  some  un- 
official works  put  the  number  at  300. 

Almost  all  the  Slavonic-speaking  inhabitants  in  the  Alps  proper 
are  to  be  found  in  the  Austrian  province  of  Carniola  (a  few  only 
in  Carinthia).  Here  there  were,  till  recently,  several  German- 
speaking  islands,  for  instance,  Deutschruth  and  Zarz,  both  dating 
back  to  the  thirteenth  century,  but  it  is  said  that  now  they  have 
been  all  but  completely  Slavonicised,  though  the  older  inhabitants 
of  some  villages  E.  of  Zarz  still  speak  German.  The  chief 
German-speaking  settlement  in  Carniola,  Gottschee,  lies  outside 
the  limits  of  the  Alps. 


3.  We  have  now  studied  the  Alpine  folk  so  far  as  regards 
their  political  situation  and  the  mother-tongues  which  they 
speak.     Something  must  now  be  said  as  to  their  religion. 

It  need  hardly  be  said  that  before  the  Reformation  of  the 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  71 

sixteenth  century  they  were  all  Romanists,  with  one  small 
exception,  the  Vaudois  or  Waldensians,  who  lay  claim  to  have 
been  'Reformers  before  the  Reformation.'  These,  however, 
were  not  very  numerous,  and  were  confined  to  some  Alpine  glens 
in  the  upper  Durance  valley,  in  Dauphine,  on  the  French  side  of 
the  Alps,  as  well  as  to  certain  others,  on  the  E.  or  Piedmontese 
slope,  such  as  the  Val  Pellice  and  the  Val  Germanasca,  both 
S.W.  of  Turin. 

After  the  Reformation  the  Waldensians  were  still  the  only 
Protestants  in  the  French  and  Italian  Alps,  and,  having 
practically  become  Calvinists  of  the  Geneva  type,  are  true 
'  Protestants.'  On  the  French  slope  of  the  Alps  there  were, 
till  recently,  small  congregations  in  the  Freissinieres  glen  of 
the  upper  Durance  valley,  and  in  the  Arvieux  branch  of  the 
Guil  glen,  a  tributary  of  the  upper  Durance  valley :  this  region 
was  known  as  the  '  Pays  de  Neff,'  from  Felix  Neff,  a  young 
Genevese  Protestant  pastor  who  devoted  part  of  his  short  life 
(1798-1829)  to  working  (1823-9)  among  its  inhabitants.  On 
the  Italian  slope  the  number  of  the  Waldensians  does  not  now 
exceed  13,000.  They  are  confined  to  the  Val  Pellice  and  its 
side  glens  of  Angrogna  and  Rora,  and  to  the  part  of  the  Val 
Germanasca  above  Perrero,  where  it  splits  into  the  glens  of 
Prali,  of  Rodoretto,  and  of  Massel.  But  the  rest  of  the  French 
Alps,  as  also  those  of  Austria  and  Bavaria,  is  inhabited  by  a 
Romanist  population.  As  regards  Switzerland,  most  of  that  part 
of  its  territory  (whatever  language  its  dwellers  speak)  which 
lies  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps  is  occupied  by  an  exclusively 
Romanist  population,  so  the  villages  of  Simpeln  and  Gondo, 
practically  the  whole  Canton  of  Tessin,  and  the  Grisons  valleys 
of  Mesocco  and  Calanca,  while  in  Poschiavo  the  Protestants 
number  about  one-fifth  of  the  population,  though  in  the 
Miinster  valley  they  form  nearly  half  (681  to  1505).  The  Val 
Bregaglia,  however,  is  five-sixths  Protestant.  When  we  look 
at  the  N.  side  of  the  Swiss  Alps,  we  notice  at  once  that  of  the 
three  great  valleys  which  are  carved  out  at  the  base  of  that 
slope,  two  are  all  but  exclusively  Romanist,  those  of  the  upper 
Rhone  or  the  Vallais,  and  of  the  upper  Vorder  Rhine  or  the 


72     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Biindner  Oberland  (the  lower  valley  is  three-fourths  Romanist), 

while  in  the  third,  the  upper  Inn  valley  or  Engadine,  only  rather 

more  than  one-third  are  of  that  faith,  Tarasp  (long  a  Habsburg 

possession)  and  the  Samnaun  glen  being  the  only  predominantly 

Romanist  spots.     We  noticed  above  the  curious  interlacing  of 

religion  and  language  as  to  the  main  valley  of  the  Hinter  Rhine. 

The  Romanists  number  three-fourths  of  the  population  in  the 

valleys   above   Thusis,   leading   to   the  Albula   and   the   Julier 

Passes,   while  they  are,   of  course,  predominant   in   'Primitive 

Switzerland,'  or  the  Cantons  of  Uri,  Schwyz,  Unterwalden,  and 

Lucerne,  though  holding  only  one-fourth  of  the  folk  of  Glarus.    On 

the  other  hand,  the  Protestants  are  vastly  superior  in  numbers  in 

the  valleys  N.  of  the  great  snowy  chain  of  the  Bernese  Oberland, 

and  claim  the  allegiance  of  three-fourths  of  the  population  in 

the  valleys  round   Davos.      In   the  older  books  of  travel  one 

used  to  read  of  the  superiority  in  many  points  of  the  Protestant 

mountain  Cantons  over  those  which  have  clung  to  the  older 

faith.     But,  if  we  put  aside  the  Canton  of  Tessin,  which  is  really 

a  bit  of  Italy  that  belongs  to  Switzerland  for  purely  historical 

reasons,    a    careful    study   will    show   that    so   far   as    regards 

natural  advantages  of  soil,  etc.,  the  Romanist  part  of  the  region 

is  far  less  favoured  than  is  the  Protestant  portion.     Compare, 

for  instance,  the  swampy  and  barren  Vallais,  and  the  deep-cut 

upper  Biindner  Oberland,  or  the  narrow  trench  of  Uri,   with 

the  smiling  valleys  of  the  Bernese  Oberland.     The  difference 

in  prosperity  is  far  from    being  wholly  due   to  differences   of 

religion. 

This  seems  to  be  the  proper  place  wherein  to  insert  a  few 
remarks  as  to  the  very  important  part  played  by  the  Church  not 
merely  in  the  conversion,  but  in  the  civilising,  of  the  Alpine 
lands.  This  was  not  merely  because  some  of  the  principal 
bishops  (such  as  Embrun,  Tarentaise,  Sion,  Coire,  Lausanne, 
Trent,  Brixen,  Salzburg)  in  these  regions  possessed  secular  as 
well  as  spiritual  powers.  That  union  of  jurisdictions  in  the 
hands  of  one  and  the  same  lord  often  did  not  produce  good 
results,  save  on  special  occasions.  We  refer  rather  to  the 
work  of  the   great   monasteries,    whose   serfs,    as  in   England, 


THE  ALPINE  FOLK  73 

occupied  a  privileged  position  by  comparison  with  those  of 
temporal  lords,  and  who  were  able  to  secure  some  continuity 
in  the  maintaining  of  the  improvements  they  had  carried  out 
in  matters  agrarian  as  well  as  educational  and  social.  Such  are 
the  ancient  Benedictine  houses  of  Novalesa  (above  Susa  and  on 
the  S.  slope  of  the  Mont  Cenis),  St  Michel  de  la  Cluse  (between 
Susa  and  Turin) — the  mother  house  of  Chamonix,  the  most 
Alpine  of  all  monasteries — Disentis  (founded  by  a  disciple  of 
Columban)  in  the  Vorder  Rhine  valley,  Miinster,  above  the 
upper  Adige  valley,  St.  Gall,  Einsiedeln,  Engelberg,  Pfafers ;  or 
the  Austin  Canons  of  St.  Maurice,  in  the  Vallais,  and  of  Inter- 
laken,  in  the  Bernese  Oberland,  or  the  Cistercians  of  Abondance, 
S.  of  the  Lake  of  Geneva.  Nor  should  we  forget  the  secular 
canons  of  Lucerne  (the  house  was  Benedictine  from  its  founda- 
tion in  the  eighth  century  till  1455),  or  the  powerful  Tyrolese 
houses  of  Marienberg  (Benedictine),  at  the  head  of  the  upper 
valley  of  the  Adige  or  Vintschgau,  and  of  Wilten  (Premonstra- 
tensian  Canons  Regular),  close  to  Innsbruck,  and  of  Innichen 
(first  Benedictine,  from  the  twelfth  century  secular  canons),  at  the 
head- waters  of  the  Drave,  and  formerly  an  outpost  of  Christianity 
towards  the  heathen  Slaves,  or  the  Styrian  house  of  Admont 
(Benedictine)  in  the  Enns  valley.  Some  of  these  religious  houses 
have  done  their  appointed  work,  while  others  still  continue  their 
labours,  though  in  a  more  limited  sphere  than  of  old.  But  all 
must  rejoice  that  the  Austin  Canons  still  ofifer  shelter  to  passers- 
by,  whether  workmen  or  travellers  for  pleasure,  on  the  Great 
St.  Bernard,  and  the  Simplon.  Formerly  they  served  also 
the  Little  St.  Bernard,  where,  since  about  1750,  the  Hospice  is 
under  the  control  of  the  military  and  religious  knightly  order  of 
SS.  JSIaurice  and  Lazarus.  The  Capuchins  were  in  charge  of 
the  Hospice  on  the  St.  Gotthard  during  the  eighteenth  century. 

In  terminating  this  sketch  of  some  of  the  main  general 
characteristics  of  the  Alpine  folk  let  us  mention  as  a  curiosity 
the  fact  that  the  highest  permanently  inhabited  village  in  the 
Alps,  as  well  as  in  Switzerland,  is  Juf(6998  ft.),  in  the  Avers 
valley  (Grisons),  not  very  far  from  the  Maloja  Pass.  The 
highest  village  in  Italy  is  Trepalle  (6788  ft.),  between  Livigno 


74     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

and  Bormio,  near  the  head  of  the  Valtelline;  the  highest  in 
the  French  Alps  is  L'Ecot  (6713  ft.),  at  the  very  head  of  the 
Arc  valley  or  Maurienne,  in  Savoy,  or  perhaps  that  of  St.  Veran, 
W.  of  Monte  Viso,  in  a  side  glen  of  the  Guil,  a  tributary  of  the 
upper  Durance  valley,  of  which  the  highest  houses  are  at  a 
height  of  6726  ft.,  though  the  rest  of  the  hamlet  is  lower;  while 
the  highest  in  Austria  or  the  Tyrol  is  Ober  Gurgl  (6322  ft.)  in 
the  Oetzthal  district,  the  neighbouring  hamlet  of  Vent  or  Fend 
being  62 11  ft. 


THE    POINTE   DES   ECRINS   AND   THE    PIC   COOLIDGE  (DAUPHIXE   ALPS) 
FROM    IHK    CHARDOX   GLACIER 


CHAPTER  VII 

THE    POLITICAL    HISTORY    OF    THE    ALPS 

THE  political  history  of  the  Alps  properly  takes  its  start,  as 
we  indicated  in  the  preceding  chapter,  with  the  establish- 
ment of  political  relations  between  the  Romans  and  the  Alpine 
folk.     But   these   relations   were   terribly   one-sided,   for    they 
consisted   in   the   more   or   less  complete    subjugation   of  the 
Alpine  tribes  to  the  hard  yoke  of  the  Romans.     If  it  was  not 
in  every  case  compulsory  annexation,  it  certainly  amounted,  on 
the  part  of  the  peoples  of  the  Alps,  to  the  abandonment  of 
their  former  freedom  and  isolation  in  favour  of  the  encroaching 
Romans.     Looked  at  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  dwellers 
among  the  fastnesses  of  the  Alps,  the  Roman  rule,  at  any  rate  in 
some  cases,  pressed  hardly  only  from  time  to  time,   when  an 
attempt  was  made  to  get  rid  of  even  a  nominal  subjection.     In 
the  eyes  of  the  Romans,  however,  such  risings  were  simply  the 
restless  strivings  of  barbarians,  who,  if  suffered  to  stretch  their 
chain  of  captivity  to  its  full  extent,  were   yet  not  allowed  to 
overpass  certain  strictly  defined  limits  on  pain  of  severe  chastise- 
ment.     The   Romans,    not   unnaturally,    entertained   a    strong 
objection   to   running   the   risk    of  having   their   delicate   and 
refined  civilisation  injured  or  threatened  by  the  rude  onslaughts 
of  these  wild  men  of  the  hills.     Yet  the  latter  had  generally 
undergone  very  hard  experiences,  and  did  not  appreciate  the 
part  assigned  to  them  of  supplying  the  wants  of  their  conquerors, 
while  they  themselves  were  kept    at   a   respectful   distance,  if 
need  were,  by  force  of  arms.     Probably,  as  in  the  case  of  any 
contact  between  civilised  and  uncivilised  nations,  both  sides 
suffered  many  disagreeables.    But  it  must  always  be  remembered 

75 


^6    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

that,  most  unfortunately,  we  have  only  accounts  of  the  con- 
flict written  by  the  conquerors,  who,  naturally,  bring  into 
prominence  their  own  brave  deeds  rather  than  those  of  their 
dreaded  foes.  Of  course,  it  must  have  been  very  unpleasant 
for  the  Romans  to  have  before  their  eyes  the  fear  of  a  possible 
invasion  of  their  fair  domains  in  sunny  Italy  by  the  Alpine 
tribes,  speaking  a  totally  different  tongue,  fascinated  by  the 
sight  of  the  good  things  denied  them,  and  eager  to  grasp  what 
they  could  at  the  point  of  the  spear. 

But  the  Alpine  folk  were  numerous  and  full  of  a  daring 
courage,  which  can  only  be  explained  by  ignorance  of  the  power 
of  their  future  conquerors.  It  was  in  the  time  of  the  Republic 
that  the  Gauls  in  what  is  now  Lombardy  and  Venetia  were 
overcome.  But  the  conquest  of  the  tribes  on  the  N.  slope  of 
the  Alps  was  a  very  long  and  wearisome  process.  Speaking 
very  roughly,  these  people  were  reduced  to  the  position  of 
Roman  allies,  or  subjects,  in  the  period  that  extends  from 
B.C.  25  to  B.C.  8  or  6.  In  the  former  of  the  two  last-named 
years  the  Arch  of  Triumph  at  Susa  was  set  up,  with  the  names 
(still  plainly  visible)  of  fourteen  conquered  Alpine  tribes,  while 
at  the  second  date  given  there  was  erected  at  Turbie,  above 
the  blue  waters  of  the  Mediterranean,  a  Tower,  now  in  ruins, 
though  the  names  of  the  forty-five  Alpine  tribes  thereon  inscribed 
have  been  luckily  preserved  to  us  by  Pliny.  Oddly  enough,  how- 
ever, but  six  names  are  common  to  the  two  inscriptions.  Matters 
could  now  be  better  organised,  and  a  ring  of  provinces  was  formed 
on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps  to  act  as  a  sort  of  cushion,  whereon 
the  attacks  of  the  wilder  warriors  might  be  made  without  any 
damage  save  to  themselves.  The  danger  to  the  Romans  was 
thus  pushed  farther  away,  behind  the  lofty  chain  of  the 
Alps,  which,  so  they  hoped,  would  have  formed  an  impassable 
barrier.  Now,  the  Romans  of  the  Empire  might  go  safely 
to  sleep,  and  care  not  which  general  assumed  the  imperial 
purple. 

It  is  hard  to  fix  the  exact  limits  of  the  Roman  dominion  in 
the  Alps,  though  we  may  safely  assert  that  under  Augustus  (died 
A.D.  14)  the  whole  of  both  slopes  of  the  Alps,  Western,  Central, 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    77 

and   Eastern,  were  in  the  hands  of  the  Emperor,  directly  or 
indirectly. 

But  as  the  central  power  grew  weaker  and  weaker  so  did  its 
hold  on  the  distant  provinces  across  the  Alps  relax  slowly  and 
surely,  while,  in  their  turn,  some  of  the  later  Emperors  ruled 
in    the   provinces    apart    from    Rome.      New   hordes    of   bar- 
barians appeared  on  the  scene.     Rome  was  sacked  successively 
by  Visigoths  under  Alaric  (a.d.   410)  and  by  Vandals  under 
Geiseric    (455).      The   division    of    the   Empire    in    395    was 
followed   in    476    by   its   nominal   reunion,    with    Odoacer    as 
imperial  viceroy  in   Italy.     But  his  rule  broke  down   in    493 
before   the    invasion    (489)    of  the    Ostrogoths    under    Theo- 
doric,  though  barely  seventy  years  later  these  had  to  make  way 
for  the  Lombards  (568).     Meanwhile,  on  the  other  side  of  the 
Alps  the  tribes  brought  into  subjection  partly  recovered  their 
liberty  of  action,  being  no  longer  controlled  by  a  strong  arm 
stretched  over  them  from  Rome,  while  in  part  they  were  pushed 
on    by  the  ever-advancing  masses   of  hitherto  dimly  heard-of 
barbarians.     Thus  the  old  provincial  system  was  replaced  by 
the  rule  of  a  set  of  vigorous  tribes  which  pressed  into  the  glens 
on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alpine  chain,  and  were  ready  enough, 
had   fortune  favoured  them,   to  imitate  the   example  of  their 
luckier  comrades  who  had  actually  entered   Italy  and  gained 
the   coveted   prize,     So  we   find   that  while   the   Burgundians 
hovered  over  the  western   portion  of  the  Alps,  the  Alamanni 
held  the  central  bit  of  the  chain,  and  the  Baioarii  occupied  the 
eastern  third — of  course,   all   these   tribes  keeping  on  the  N. 
slope. 

All  were,  however,  to  give  way  and  bow  their  necks  to  the 
rule  of  a  distant  yet  increasingly  powerful  folk,  the  Franks,  who 
slowly  but  steadily  made  their  way  towards  the  Alps  and  so 
to  Italy  and  Rome.  Hardly  had  Clovis,  the  founder  of  the 
Merwing  dynasty,  put  the  final  stroke  (486)  to  the  last  surviving 
fragment  of  Roman  rule,  under  Syagrius,  in  north-western  Gaul, 
than  he  put  the  Alamanni  to  rout  (496).  This  crowning  victory 
(for  the  conversion  of  the  Franks  to  orthodox  Christianity 
soonjj  after    secured    their    ultimate  supremacy)   was   followed 


78     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

up  by  his  successors,  who  in  532  overcame  the  Burgundians, 
and  in  536  obtained  from  the  Alamanni  their  last  stronghold 
in  Rsetia,  as  well  as  from  the  Ostrogoths  their  possessions  in 
Provence.  In  575,  let  us  not  forget  the  event,  the  Franks 
wrested  the  valley  of  Aosta  (as  well  as  Susa)  from  the  Lombards, 
and  henceforth  this  valley,  though  lying  S.  of  the  Alps,  followed, 
with  very  slight  breaks,  the  fortunes  of  masters  who  ruled  on  the 
N.  slope  of  the  great  chain. 

But  the  fresh  vigour  of  the  Merwings  soon  died  away,  so  that 
they  did  not  themselves  pluck  the  coveted  fruit  from  the  trees, 
simply  preparing  the  way  for  the  mightier  Carolingians  (751). 
Pippin,  the  founder  of  that  dynasty,  found  enough  to  occupy 
his  attention  in  Aquitania  and  towards  the  Pyrenees.  It  was 
his  son,  Charles  the  Great,  who  during  his  glorious  reign  {768- 
814)  not  merely  carried  out  his  father's  schemes,  but  added 
to  them  in  a  fashion  that  would  probably  have  startled  Pippin. 
His  conquest  of  the  Lombards  (774),  after  forcing  his  way  over 
the  Alps,  meant  not  merely  supremacy  in  Italy,  but,  what  to 
us  here  is  even  more  important,  the  possession  of  the  entire 
S.  slope  of  the  Alps.  He  already  held  on  the  N.  slope  the  W. 
or  Burgundian,  as  well  as  the  Central  or  Alamannian  heritage. 
Hence,  when  in  788  he  added  the  lands  of  the  Baioarii  to  his 
own  realm,  and  this  meant  the  annexation  of  what  represents 
modern  Tyrol  and  Carinthia,  Charles  thus  obtained  the  one 
bit  of  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps  lacking  to  him.  Once  more 
the  whole  of  the  Alpine  chain  was  under  the  rule  of  a 
single  monarch,  and  therefore  the  historian  of  the  Alps  has  a 
special  feeling  of  joy  when  he  recalls  the  coronation  of  Charles 
the  Great  at  Rome  on  Christmas  Day,  800,  as  the  second 
Augustus,  and  Emperor  of  the  Romans.  Never  again  was  the 
whole  of  the  great  mountain  chain  of  which  w^e  are  studying  the 
history  to  be  held  by  one  and  the  same  man.  But,  as  we 
shall  see,  it  was  the  third  member  of  the  great  triumvirate  that 
at  long  intervals  have  moulded  the  history  of  Europe  more 
than  any  other  human  beings,  even  Napoleon  himself,  who 
came  very  near  success  in  his  attempt  to  rival,  or  surpass,  the 
deeds  of  his  two  great  predecessors. 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    79 

The  successor  of  Charles  the  Great  was  his  son   Louis  the 
Pious,    but   he   had    hardly   assumed   the   burden    of  Empire 
(crowned  at  Rome  in  810)  when  he  began  to  partition  it  among 
his  sons  (817).     It  was  only,  however,  after  his  death  (840)  that 
a  partition  was  definitively  made  by  the  famous  Treaty  of  Verdun 
(843),  which,  roughly  speaking,  laid  the  foundations  of  modern 
Europe.     We  need  not  trouble  ourselves  here  with  the  share 
of  the  youngest  brother,  Charles  the  Bald,  as  it  did  not  touch 
any  part  of  the  Alpine  chain  ;  the  frontier  of  his  kingdom,  which 
nearly  represented  the  France  of  later  times,  was  drawn  to  the 
W.  of  the  Rhone  and  the  Saone.     The  second  brother,  Louis 
the  Germanic,  obtained  what  may  be  called  an  elementary  form 
of  later  Germany,  so  that  his  domains  took  in  that  part  of  modern 
Switzerland  which  is  E.  of  the  Aar,  as  well  as  Tyrol,  Carinthia, 
and  Carniola.     In  short,   he  held   the  whole  of  the  German- 
speaking  portion  of  the  Alps.     The  eldest  brother,  Lothair,  took 
the   title   of  Emperor   (together  with    Italy,    thus   ruling   over 
the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps),  and  also  a  long  strip  of  territory  which 
stretched  from  the  mouth  of  the  Rhine  to  that  of  the  Rhone,  this 
great    Middle  Kingdom  being   named  by  the  chroniclers  the 
'  regnum  Lotharii '  (the  '  kingdom  of  Lothair '),  or  '  Lotharingia.' 
Here  we  have  no  concern  with  the  more  northerly  half,  a  bit  of 
which  later  monopolised  the  name  of  Lorraine.     Our  interest 
is  limited  to  the  southern  half,  which  took  in  what  is  now  W. 
Switzerland,  Savoy,  Dauphine,  and  Provence,  the  whole  forming 
a   Romance-speaking  region   as   contrasted  with   the  German- 
speaking  Alpine  dominions  of  Louis  the  Germanic.     On  Lothair 
i.'s  death  (855)  this    S'.   half  was  given   over  to  his  youngest 
son,  Charles,  the  N.  half  going  to  his  second  son,  Lothair  11., 
while    Louis,     the     eldest     of    the     three    brothers,    became 
Emperor  and  ruler  of  Italy.     But  on  Charles's  death  (863)  that 
part  of  his  heritage  which  lay  to  the  E.  of  the  Rhone  wxnt  to 
his  eldest  brother,   Louis,  and  was  held  together  with  Italy, 
while  after  Lothair  11. 's  death  (869)  the  N.  half  went  to  Louis 
the  Germanic.     Henceforward  the  history  of  these  two  halves  of 
Lotharingia,  or  the  Middle  Kingdom  (which  thus  existed  only 
from  843  to  855),  is  wholly  distinct.     When  Lothair  i.'s  line 


8o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

became  extinct  in  875,  on  the  death  of  Louis,  its  domains  (with 
the  imperial  dignity  and  Italy)  passed  to  Charles  the  Bald,  who 
ruled  over  them  as  w^ell  as  over  his  original  share  (roughly 
speaking,  later  France). 

Two  events,  not  far  removed  in  point  of  time,  the  deaths  of 
Charles  the  Bald  (877)  and  that  of  Charles  the  Fat  (888— he 
held  the  German-speaking  portion  of  the  Alps,  as  well  as  Italy), 
finally  broke  up  the  huge  Empire  of  Charles  the  Great  into  four 
great  fragments,   of  which   three  only   (we    exclude   the   West 
Frankish  kingdom,  which  did  not  touch  the  Alps)  concern  us 
in  this  sketch  of  the  history  of  the   Alps.     Germany  (or   the 
Eastern  Frankish  kingdom)  henceforward  had  a  separate  life  of  its 
own,  though  soon,  in  its  Alpine  portions,  a  crowd  of  great  feudal 
nobles  secured  all  practical  power.    Italy  passed  through  the  hands 
of  a  rapid  succession  of  rulers,  till  there  too  many  feudal  lords 
each  secured  to  himself  a  portion  of  the  realm.     Finally  the  S. 
half  of  the  Middle  Kingdom  broke  up  into  two  portions.     In 
879  Count  Boso  of  Vienne  was  chosen  king  by  his  fellow-nobles, 
his  rule  extending  over  all  what  is  now  modern  Savoy  (save  that 
bit   which   lies    S.    of  the    Lake    of   Geneva   and   N.    of    the 
upper  Isere  valley  or  the  Tarentaise),  Dauphine,  and  Provence. 
This  kingdom  is  sometimes  called  'Cisjurane  Burgundy,'  but 
it  took  in  no  part  of  the  Jura,  and  is  more  accurately  named  the 
'kingdom  of  Provence' :  it  lasted  only  till  about  933,  when  its 
then  ruler,  Count  Hugh  of  Aries,  king  of  Italy,  made  it  over  to 
the  king  of  the  more  northerly  half  of  '  Burgundy.'     The  last- 
named   kingdom   took   its   origin    in   888,    after   the   death    of 
Charles  the  Fat,  the  first   king   being   Rudolf,   a   Burgundian 
count.     This  more  northerly  kingdom  (which  is  generally  named 
'  Transjurane  Burgundy ')   comprised  all  W.  Switzerland,    with 
that  part  of  Savoy  between  the  Lake  of  Geneva  and  the  upper 
valley  of  the  Isere  and  the  valley  of  Aosta  (held  880-888  by 
Boso).     Its  second  king,  Rudolf  11,,  it  was  who  got  from  Count 
Hugh  the  kingdom   of  Provence  at  the  nominal  price  of  the 
crown  of  Italy.     Thus  about  933  the  two  Burgundian  kingdoms 
were  reunited  after  having  been  divided  since  879.     This  united 
kingdom    (which  included  the  whole    of   the    N.  slope  of  the 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    8i 

Western  Alps,  save  the  Vallais,  but  with  the  addition  of  the 
valley  of  Aosta  on  the  S.  slope)  lasted  till  1032,  when,  by  a 
treaty  made,  in  1027,  with  the  last  king,  Rudolf  in.  (died  1032), 
it  passed  to  Conrad  11.,  the  Emperor  and  German  king  who  was 
crowned  in  1033  at  Payerne.  It  is,  however,  only  early  in  the 
thirteenth  century  that  this  kingdom  of  Burgundy  officially  takes 
the  name,  by  which  it  is  usually  known,  of  the  kingdom  of 
Aries.  It  practically  came  to  an  end  in  1378,  when  the  Emperor 
Charles  iv.  (who  had  been  crowned  king  of  Aries  at  Aries  in 
1365)  conferred  the  office  of  'Imperial  Vicar'  within  the  whole 
of  the  kingdom  of  Aries  on  the  young  Dauphin,  eldest  son  of 
Charles  v.,  king  of  France.  In  1193  the  Emperor  Henry  vi. 
(who  had  no  real  authority  over  it)  conferred  on  Richard  i.  of 
England  (in  return  for  his  homage  for  England)  the  kingdom  of 
Provence  'up  to  the  Alps,'  though  this  gift  remained  a  mere 
donation  on  paper,  meant  to  secure  Richard  to  the  service  of 
the  Emperor. 

But  the  event  of  1378,  simply  marked  a  fait  accompli.  Long 
before  many  feudal  lords  had  practically  got  to  themselves 
all  real  power  in  all  parts  of  the  Alpine  region.  Hence,  if  the 
date  888  marks  the  beginning  of  the  modern  states  and  divisions 
of  Europe,  in  the  Alpine  regions  the  eleventh  and  twelfth 
centuries  are  far  more  important.  It  is  at  that  time  that  there 
emerge  gradually  from  the  crowd  of  those  who  were  struggling 
for  power  in  that  region  the  three  famiUes  which  were  ultimately 
to  prevail.  It  is  thus  best  for  us  to  bring  this  general  sketch 
of  the  political  history  of  the  Alps  to  an  end  about  1033. 
Henceforward  it  will  be  clearer  to  trace  out  the  separate  political 
history  of  the  three  great  divisions  of  the  Alps.  In  the  Western 
Alps  the  long  struggle  between  the  Counts  of  Savoy,  of  Albon 
(later  Dauphins  of  the  Viennois),  and  of  Provence  ended  in  the 
supremacy  of  France  on  the  W.  slope  and  of  Savoy  on  the 
E.  slope.  In  the  Central  Alps  (which  for  our  purposes  include 
the  Upper  Vallais)  the  struggle  lay  between  the  elements  of  the 
future  Swiss  Confederation  and  the  holder  for  the  time  of  the 
Milanese.  Finally,  in  the  Eastern  Alps  we  have  to  trace  out 
the  gradual  absorption  of  many  minor  states  and  principalities 

F 


82     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

by  the  powerful  House  of  Habsburg.  Thus,  roughly  speaking, 
France,  the  Swiss  Confederation,  and  Austria  struggled  for  long 
with  the  successive  owners  of  Northern  Italy.  That  struggle 
ended,  at  least  for  the  present,  in  1859-1866;  in  i860  the  House 
of  Savoy  gave  up  Nice  and  Savoy  (its  last  possessions  on  the 
W.  slope)  to  France,  while  in  1859  and  1866  the  dynasty  of 
Savoy,  now  aiming  at  ruling  United  Italy,  obtained  respectively 
Lombardy  and  Venetia.  Thus,  nowadays,  France,  the  Swiss 
Confederation,  and  Austria  share  the  W.  or  N.  slope  of  the 
Alps  (Bavaria  holds  but  a  very  small  bit),  while  Italy  rules  the 
whole  of  the  S.  slope,  save  in  the  case  of  certain  small 
districts  mentioned  in  the  preceding  chapter. 


But  before  entering  upon  the  special  political  history  of  each 
of  the  three  main  divisions  of  the  Alps  we  must  make  some 
mention  of  two  great  facts,  each  of  which  concerns  the  history  of 
the  Alpine  chain  as  a  whole — the  tenth  century  incursions  of  the 
Saracens  of  La  Garde  Freinet,  and  the  rule  (181 0-15)  of  Napoleon. 

In  887  or  888,  just  as  the  Empire  of  Charles  the  Great  was 
breaking  up,  some  shipwrecked  Spanish  Saracen  pirates  settled 
themselves  in  an  eagle's  nest,  at  La  Garde  Freinet,  built  on  the 
ridge  of  the  thickly  wooded  Montagnes  des  Maures,  above  and  to 
the  S.W.  of  Frejus,  on  the  coast  of  Provence.  That  spot  remained 
their  headquarters  till,  in  975,  Count  William  of  Provence  and 
Ardoin,  Marquess  of  Turin,  extirpated  these  pests.  But  in  the 
course  of  those  ninety  years  these  Saracens  did  a  vast  deal  of 
harm  in  many  parts  of  the  Alps,  and  immensely  increased  the 
anarchy  which  there  prevailed  after  the  break-up  of  the 
Carolingian  Empire.  About  906  they  crossed  the  Col  de 
Tenda  and  sacked  the  monastery  of  Pedona,  at  the  modern 
Borgo  San  Dalmazzo,  near  Cuneo,  while  very  soon  after  they 
pushed  again  across  the  Alps,  probably  by  the  Mont  Cenis,  and 
destroyed  the  great  abbey  of  Novalesa,  in  the  Dora  Riparia 
valley,  W.  of  Turin.  In  916  they  sacked  Embrun,  and  its 
neighbourhood  in  the  upper  Durance  valley.  Holding  thus  the 
two  great  passes  of  the  Western  Alps,  the  Mont  Genevre  and 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    83 

the  Mont  Cenis,  they  established  a  reign  of  terror  in  that  part 
of  the  Alps.  In  921  and  again  in  923  we  are  expressly  told 
that  they  massacred  bands  of  peaceful  English  pilgrims  on  their 
way  to  Rome.  In  929  we  hear  that  they  held  the  passes  of 
the  Alps,  while  in  936  they  ravaged  the  diocese  of  Coire  in 
Rjetia.  In  940  they  burnt  and  sacked  the  great  abbey  of  St. 
Maurice  in  the  Vallais,  and  in  942  made  a  treaty  with  Hugh, 
king  of  Italy,  by  which  they  were  formally  given  possession  of  all 
the  Alps  (and  hence  of  the  passes  over  them)  between  Germany 
and  Italy.  Grenoble  and  its  neighbourhood  had  been  occupied 
already  a  long  time  in  954,  in  which  year  too  they  attacked 
certain  Alpine  pastures  belonging  to  the  monastery  of  St.  Gall, 
while  in  956  the  Emperor  Otto  i.  applied  for  help  against  them 
to  the  Caliph  of  Cordova.  In  fact,  it  was  felt  that  some  serious 
attempt  must  be  made  to  put  a  stop  to  the  depredations  of  these 
robbers.  The  climax  came  when  in  973  Majolus,  the  abbat  of 
Cluny,  was  captured  by  them  at  Orsieres,  on  his  way  from 
Rome  over  the  Great  St.  Bernard.  Detailed  accounts  of  his 
sufferings  have  been  preserved  to  us,  and  he  was  only  liberated 
by  the  payment  of  a  huge  ransom  that  his  monks  had  great 
trouble  in  collecting.  Hence  in  975  the  two  nobles  of  whom 
we  have  made  mention  above  took  La  Garde  Freinet  by  storm, 
and  put  every  man  to  the  sword.  In  the  fifteenth  century 
breviary  of  the  church  of  Gap  grateful  mention  is  made  of  this 
glorious  feat  of  arms,  in  commemoration  of  which  Count  William 
gave  half  the  town  of  Gap  to  God  and  Our  Lady. 

To  us  here  these  Saracen  inroads  are  important  because  two 
of  the  chief  dynasties  in  the  Western  Alps  (the  Counts  of  Albon, 
later  the  Dauphins  of  the  Viennois,  and  the  Counts  of  Provence) 
came  into  prominence  through  the  part  they  took  in  repelling 
these  bandits. 

Nor  were  these  Saracens  the  only  bandits  who  made  the  Alps 
unsafe  in  the  tenth  century,  for  we  often  hear  of  incursions  by 
parties  of  Magyars  or  Hungarians,  in  particular  of  a  violent 
attack  on  the  monastery  of  St.  Gall  in  926,  and  of  another  raid 
across  the  Alps  in  954. 

The  second  point  relating  to  the  Alps  as  a  whole  which  may 


84    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

best  find  a  place  here,  before  we  enter  on  the  special  consideration 
of  the  various  divisions  of  the  great  chain,  is  the  way  in  which 
Napoleon  very  nearly  rivalled  Charles  the  Great  in  his  political 
domination  of  the  Alpine  region.  It  is  no  doubt  true  that  the 
mediaeval  Emperors,  after  the  kingdom  of  Burgundy  fell  back  to 
them  in  1032,  till  the  rise  of  the  Swiss  Confederation,  and  of 
that  of  the  House  of  Savoy,  as  well  as  till  the  steady  eastward 
progress  of  the  French  kingdom,  exercised  a  more  or  less 
shadowy  suzerainty,  rather  than  sovereignty,  over  the  whole 
Alpine  region.  But  Napoleon's  rule  from  about  iSioto  1814 
was  far  more  real,  though  it  did  not  take  in  quite  all  the  part  of 
Europe  which  interests  us.  As  Emperor  of  the  French  (since 
1804)  he  held  as  heir  of  the  Republic  or  as  conqueror 
(besides  Dauphine  and  Provence)  Savoy  and  the  county  of 
Nice  (acquired  1792),  Geneva  and  its  neighbourhood  (1798), 
Piedmont  (1802),  Liguria  (1805),  and  the  lUyrian  Provinces, 
i.e.  part  of  Carinthia  and  all  Carniola  (1809),  and  the  Vallais 
(annexed  in  18 10).  As  king  of  Italy  (1805)  he  ruled  over 
Lombardy,  besides  the  Valtelline  and  the  county  of  Bormio 
(1797),  and  Venetia  (got  in  two  bits,  in  1797  and  in  1805),  as 
well  as  the  Italian-speaking  part  of  the  Tyrol  (got  in  1809  from 
Bavaria).  As  a  powerful  and  well-nigh  irresistible  '  friend '  he 
controlled  the  Swiss  Confederation  since  the  Act  of  Mediation 
(1803),  while  by  means  of  the  Confederation  of  the  Rhine  (1806) 
he  was  master  of  the  Vorarlberg,  Salzburg,  and  the  German- 
speaking  part  of  the  Tyrol,  through  Bavaria,  to  which  these 
districts  had  been  made  over  in  1809.  It  would  thus  appear 
that  the  only  Alpine  countries  which  Napoleon  did  not  at  that  time 
or  ever  reign  over  were  Styria  and  a  part  of  Carinthia,  which  re- 
mained in  the  hands  of  Austria.  As  regards  those  relatively 
small  portions  of  the  Alps,  Napoleon's  dominions  were  smaller 
than  those  of  Charles  the  Great  or  of  the  Romans.  But  most 
probably  his  rule  was  far  more  effective  than  that  of  his  pre- 
decessors in  rougher  and  less  civilised  ages.  History  often 
repeats  itself,  but  it  may  be  doubted  whether  this  adage  will 
hold  true  of  the  rule  of  a  single  state  or  man  over  the  entire 
chain  of  the  Alps,     But  what  an  ideal  and  much-to-be-envied 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    85 

position  it  would  be,  to  have  in  one's  own  hands  all  the  keys 
which  opened  the  way  to  Italy  !  It  would  be  sufficient  to  turn 
the  head  of  the  most  prudent  ruler  of  the  sedatest  of  states. 


I.  THE  WESTERN  ALPS 
(From  the  Col  de  Tenda  to  the  Simplon) 

The  struggle  in  this  portion  of  the  Alps  lay  ultimately  be- 
tween France  on  the  one  side,  and  the  House  of  Savoy  on  the 
other.  But  it  was  only  at  a  comparatively  late  date  that  these 
two  foes  stood  face  to  face,  for  their  career  in  each  case  had 
started  from  small  beginnings,  and  meant  the  absorption  of  many 
smaller  rulers. 

It  was  in  the  eleventh  century,  just  about  the  time  when  the 
kingdom  of  Burgundy  was  ending  (1032)  as  a  separate  state,  that 
three  feudal  families  (Savoy,  Dauphine,  and  Provence)  among 
those  which  held  sway  in  the  region  between  the  Rhone  (below 
Lyons)  and  the  Alps  emerged  from  the  ruck,  and  stood  forth 
to  do  battle  for  supremacy  in  that  part  of  the  Alpine  region. 
They  all  rose  on  the  ruins  of  the  kingdom  of  Burgundy. 


(i)  The  first  is  that  of  the  future  House  of  Savoy.  In  1025 
Humbert  with  the  White  Hands  is  mentioned  as  Count  of  Aosta, 
and  in  1036  as  Count  of  the  Maurienne  (or  the  valley  of  the  Arc, 
leading  to  the  Mont  Cenis),  while  in  1034  he  perhaps  received 
the  Chablais  from  Conrad  11.,  whom  he  had  helped  to  secure  the 
crown  of  Burgundy.  His  son  acquired  by  marriage  {c.  1046)  the 
marquessate  of  Turin,  thus  firmly  planting  his  house  on  the 
other  side  of  the  Alps.  The  district  originally  bearing  the  title- 
name  of  Savoy  (that  between  Aix  les  Bains,  Chambery,  and 
Montmelian)  was  inherited  from  a  cadet  branch  about  1050, 
while  about  1082  the  Archbishop  of  the  Tarentaise  (or  the  upper 
valley  of  the  Isere),  who  in  996  had  received  from  the  last  king 


86     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  Transjurane  Burgundy  the  temporal  jurisdiction  of  that  region, 
became  a  vassal  of  the  rapidly  rising  House  of  Savoy.     Further, 
through  the  position  of  the  head  of  the  family  as  protector  of  the 
great  abbey  of  St.  Maurice,  it  practically  ruled  the  Lower  Vallais, 
though  the  Bishop  of  Sion  retained  the  temporal  jurisdiction  which 
he  had  received  in  999  from  the  last  of  the  kings  of  Transjurane 
Burgundy.     In  short,  this  house  had  to  all  intents  and  purposes 
inherited  the  domains  of  Rudolf  iii.  of  Transjurane  Burgundy, 
so  far  as  regards  the  central  portion  of  his  kingdom.     Hence  in 
1 1 25  we  find  its  head  assuming  the  title  of  'Count  of  Savoy'  in 
the  foundation  charter  of  the  abbey  of  Hautecombe,  the  future 
burying-place  of  his  race.     In  the  thirteenth  century  the  family 
whose  rise  we  are  tracing  acquired   (12 16)  the  overlordship  of 
Saluzzo  (including  the  upper  Po  and  Varaita  valleys),  purchased 
its  long-time  capital  Chambery  (1232)  from  its  local  lord,  con- 
quered (1240- 1 268)  a  great  part  of  the  district  of  Vaud  and  the 
Lower  Vallais,  and  obtained  (1243-6)  from  the  abbat  of  Pinerolo 
that  town  with  the  Chisone  valley.     The  erection  of  Aosta  and 
the  Chablais  (just  S.  of  the  Lake  of  Geneva)  into  a  duchy  (1238), 
and  the  elevation  of  the  head  of  the  house  to  the  dignity  of 
Prince  of  the  Empire  (13 10),  mark  the  further  advance  of  the 
House  of  Savoy,    which  in  131 3  got  hold   of   Ivrea,    the  link 
between  its  ancient  possessions  of  Aosta  and  of  Turin,  as  well 
as  in  1 3 13  of  the  Canavese  or  the  upper  Oreo  valley.     Finally, 
in  1356,  Amadeus,  the  '  Green  Count,'  was  made  by  the  Emperor 
Charles  iv.  his  Vicar  or  representative  within  the    domains  of 
the  House  of  Savoy,   which  thus,   for  all  practical   purposes, 
became  independent  of  the  Empire. 


2.  Let  us  turn  now  to  the  second  of  the  three  great  feudal 
families  we  mentioned  above,  that  of  the  Dmiphins  of  the 
VieiiJiois.  It  is  about  1034  that  we  first  hear  of  a  Count  of 
Albon  (between  Vienna  and  Valence,  in  the  valley  of  the 
Rhone).  This  dynasty  seems  to  have  come  to  the  front  and 
established  its  power  by  virtue  of  the  active  part  it  played  in  re- 
pelling the  invasions  of  the  Saracens  in  the  tenth  century,  several 


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THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    87 

of  its  members  earlier  than  Count  Guy  having  been  bishops 
of  Grenoble.  Its  original  domains  lay  in  the  Graisivaudan 
valley  (that  is  the  bit  of  the  Isere  valley  between  Montmelian  and 
Grenoble)  and  in  the  Champsaur  (the  upper  Drac  valley).  But 
as  early  as  1053  it  had  extended  its  rule  to  the  Brian^onnais, 
at  the  head- waters  of  the  Durance.  This  region  (which  takes 
its  name  from  the  little  Roman  town  of  Briangon)  included, 
however,  much  more  than  the  upper  Durance  valley,  and  its 
side  glens,  those  of  the  Clairee,  the  Guisane,  the  Vallouise, 
and  the  Queyras  (or  the  Guil  valley).  From  Briangon  the 
pass  of  the  Mont  Genevre,  one  of  the  great  historical  passes  of 
the  Alps,  leads  over  to  the  valley  of  the  Dora  Riparia  (Cesanne, 
Oulx,  Bardonneche,  near  the  Mont  Cenis  Tunnel,  Exilles, 
Salbertrand);  while  from  Cesanne  at  its  E.  foot  the  Col  de 
Sestrieres  gives  access  past  Pragelas  and  Fenestrelles  to  Pinerolo 
by  the  Chisone  valley,  of  which  the  upper  portion  (above  Perosa) 
belonged  to  the  Briangonnais  :  further,  from  the  head  of  the  Guil 
valley  several  passes  (e.g.  the  Col  de  I'Agnel  and  the  Col  de 
Vallante)  lead  over  to  the  head  of  the  Varaita  valley  (just  S. 
of  Monte  Viso)  wherein  are  Chateau  Dauphin,  Castelponte, 
and  Bellino,  all  likewise  included  in  the  Briangonnais.  These 
minute  topographical  details  may  be  pardoned  because  they 
will  enable  us  better  to  understand  the  part  played  by  the 
Dauphine  in  the  great  struggle  for  the  Western  Alps.  Thus 
the  future  Dauphins  (this  name  will  be  explained  below) 
had  many  of  the  passes,  E.  slope  as  well  as  W.  slope,  over  the 
Alps,  in  their  own  hands.  Hence  the  rulers  of  the  Briangonnais 
held  wide  dominions  on  the  other  side  of  the  Alps,  just  like 
their  neighbours  of  Savoy,  who  reigned  immediately  to  the  N., 
so  that  the  two  houses  were  bound  sooner  or  later  to  come  into 
conflict.  Before  that  time  arrived,  however,  the  Dauphins  had 
acquired  much  territory  at  the  expense  of  their  neighbours  (the 
heirs  of  the  Counts  of  Forcalquier)  on  the  S.,  the  Counts  of 
Provence,  of  whom  we  shall  speak  presently. 

In  1232  the  Dauphins  acquired  by  purchase  (as  the  ultimate 
result  of  a  lucky  marriage  with  the  heiress  in  1202)  the 
Embrunais  (or  middle  reach  of  the  upper  Durance  valley,  and 


88     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

so  just  S.  of  the  Briangonnais)  and  the  Gapengais  (between  the 
Durance  and  the  Drac  valleys).  This  extensive  addition  (con- 
firmed by  the  Emperor  Frederick  ii.  in  1 247)  enabled  the  Dauphins 
to  join,  as  it  were,  their  domains  in  the  Champsaur  and  around 
Grenoble  with  those  in  the  Brianconnais,  the  great  snow-clad  mass 
of  the  Pelvoux  rising  between  these  hitherto  isolated  possessions. 
The  heir  and  successor  of  the  Dauphin  who  made  this  lucky 
purchase  himself  added  to  the  family  estates  by  marrying  (1241) 
the  heiress  (1268)  of  the  Faucigny  (the  Arve  valley,  wherein  is 
Chamonix),  but,  as  we  shall  see  later,  this  lordship  was  lost 
to  the  House  of  Savoy  in  1355.  Of  the  other  transfers  from 
Provence  to  Dauphine  (the  process  went  on  till  1503)  we  need 
only  mention  the  annexation,  in  1424,  in  virtue  of  the  will  of 
the  last  count  (d.  1419),  of  the  counties  of  Die  and  Valence. 
But  by  that  time  the  Dauphine  had  ceased  to  be  an  indepen- 
dent state,  for,  as  is  well  known,  it  was  sold  by  Humbert,  the 
last  Dauphin,  in  1349,  to  Charles  (later  Charles  v.),  grandson 
of  the  king  of  France.  Thus  France  for  the  first  time  touched 
the  Alps.  In  1378,  as  we  noted  towards  the  beginning  of  this 
chapter,  the  Emperor  Charles  iv.  named  the  then  holder  of 
the  Dauphine  (the  eldest  son  of  King  Charles  v.)  Imperial 
Vicar  wnthin  the  Dauphine  and  Provence,  thus  practically 
putting  an  end  to  the  Imperial  supremacy  in  these  regions. 

Here  we  may  intercalate  a  few  remarks  about  the  origin  of 
the  title  '  Dauphin '  as  there  has  been  much  confusion  on  the 
subject.  The  name  '  Delphinus '  (borne  as  a  Christian  name 
by  a  fourth  century  Bishop  of  Bordeaux,  by  a  seventh  century 
Bishop  of  Lyons,  and  with  a  feminine  termination,  by  a  four- 
teenth century  female  saint)  appears  first  in  mo  as  a  sort 
of  second  Christian  name  of  Guy  iv.,  both  during  the  lifetime 
of  his  father  and  afterwards,  and  then  in  1151  of  his  son  and 
successor  also.  The  latter's  heiress,  Beatrice  (d.  1228 — she  was 
the  last  of  the  first  race),  gave  (1193)  to  her  son  Andrew 
(d.  1237)  the  second  name  of  '  Delphinus,'  in  order  to  show  his 
descent.  His  son,  Guy  vi.  (d.  1270),  also  bears  (1238)  this 
second  name  (though  generally  in  the  genitive  case),  which  at 
home  is  treated  as  a  patronymic,  though  abroad  it  is  tending 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    89 

to  be  considered  a  title.  The  same  is  the  case  under  Guy's 
son,  John,  whose  proper  title  is  always  '  Count  of  Vienne  and 
Albon.'  But  with  John  the  second  race  ended,  and  on  his 
death  (1282)  his  realms  passed  to  his  sister,  Anne,  who  had 
married  Humbert,  lord  of  La  Tour  du  Pin.  Humbert  it  was 
who  finally  adopted  '  Delphinus '  as  a  title,  even  in  the  very 
year  of  his  accession,  and  soon  the  change  is  complete.  In 
1284  his  wife  is  called  'Delphina'  and  in  1285  his  realms 
'  Delphinatus.'  It  should  be  noticed,  however,  that  Humbert 
generally  adds  to  the  title  'Dauphin'  the  words  'Comte  de 
Vienne  et  d'Albon,'  only  rarely  using  the  form  'Delphinus 
Viennensis.'  In  any  case  '  Dauphin '  is  a  title,  and  so,  if  we 
wish  to  be  accurate,  we  should  speak  of  the  '  Dauphins  of  the 
Viennois,'  as  long  as  they  continued  to  be  an  independent 
dynasty  {i.e.  till  1349).  In  the  closely  related  family  of  the 
Counts  of  Auvergne  the  name  '  Dauphin '  has  a  similar  history, 
the  <dates  being  remarkably  parallel.  In  11 96  it  is  a  Christian 
name,  about  1250  a  patronymic,  and  in  1281  a  title.  This 
house,  too,  is  properly  named  '  Dauphins  of  Auvergne '  till  its 
extinction  in  the  seventeenth  century.  It  is  quite  certain  that 
the  name  or  title  of  '  Dauphin '  was  not  borrowed  from  the 
arms  borne  by  these  families,  for  oddly  enough  it  was  probably 
in  the  first  years  of  the  thirteenth  century  that  the  three  houses 
(all  kinsmen)  of  Dauphine,  Auvergne,  and  Forez  (the  last  named 
never  bore  the  title  of  '  Dauphin,'  but  that  of  Count)  altered 
their  former  arms,  and  placed  on  them  the  dolphin,  which  thus 
may  be  regarded  as  a  case  of  '  canting  arms.' 


3.  Like  their  neighbours,  the  Counts  of  Albon,  the  Counts  of 
Provence  seem  to  have  established  their  power  after  the  defeat  in 
975  of  the  Saracens  by  Count  William.  That  event,  at  any  rate, 
vastly  increased  their  authority,  for  the  first  count  we  hear  of, 
Boso,  William's  father,  was  simply  the  Count  of  Aries.  Later  they 
sometimes  name  themselves  '  Marquises '  of  Provence,  as  that 
was  a  border  or  '  march '  land  towards  Italy.  To  us  this  dynasty 
is  important  only  as  regards  the  Alpine  lands  it  held.     We  have 


90     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

seen  above  that  in  1232  it  finally  lost  the  Embrunais  and  the 
Gapengais,  which  it  had  obtained  about  1208  when  it  became 
heir  to  the  Counts  of  Forcalquier  (a  small  town  above  the  right 
bank  of  the  lower  course  of  the  Durance).     The  next  count, 
Raymond  Berengar  iv.,  rebuilt  (1231)  the  little  town  of  Bar- 
celonnette  in  the  Ubaye  valley,  giving  it  that  name  because 
the  elder  branch  of  his  house  held  (with  the  crown  of  Aragon) 
the  county  of  Barcelona.     The  marriage  (1246)  of  his  daughter 
and  heiress,  Beatrice,  to  Charles  of  Anjou,  brother  of  St.  Louis, 
brought  Provence  into  close  connection  with  the  kingdom  of 
France,  to  which  it  was  finally  annexed  in  1481  by  the  testament 
of  the  last  count.     But  before  that  date  the  county  had  been 
shorn  of  some  of  its  finest  districts.     Under  the  House  of  Anjou 
the  Counts  of  Provence  had  acquired   (1259-1260,   1306-1347) 
much  territory  on  the  E.  slope  of  the  Alps,  so  that  they  ruled  over 
many  of  the  Alpine  valleys  thereon  situated,  those  of  the  Varaita, 
the  Maira,  the  Stura,  the  Gesso,  and  the  Vermenagna.     On  the 
extinction  of  the  first  Angevin  house  of  the  Counts  of  Provence 
(1382),  the  new  count,  dazzled  by  the  prospect  of  the  crown  of 
Naples  (to  which  he  had  become  entitled  by  the  will  of  Queen- 
Countess  Joanna)  gave  up  all  his  rights  over  these  parts  to  the 
junior  branch  of  the  House  of  Savoy  (from  which  in  14 18  the 
senior  branch  inherited  them,  with  Piedmont).    The  elder  branch 
of  the  House  of  Savoy,  too,  in    1382  acquired    the   town   of 
Cuneo,    which   commands    the   great    passes    of    the    Col    de 
I'Argentiere,    leading    by    the    Stura    and    Ubaye    valleys    to 
Barcelonnette,   and    of    the    Col   de    Tenda,    leading    by   the 
Vermenagna  and   Roja  valleys    to  VentimigUa.     Both  formed 
part  of  the  county  of  Nice,  which  had  in  the  tenth  and  eleventh 
centuries  been  ruled  by  its  local  counts,  who  acknowledged  the 
Counts  of  Provence  as  their  suzerain,  and  later  on  the  town  had 
become  practically  independent.     In  the  course  of  the  struggle 
between  the  second  Angevin  dynasty  of  Provence  and  the  junior 
or  Durazzo  branch  of  the  House  of  Naples,  the  former  was  on  the 
point  of  occupying  Nice,  which  submitted  (1388)  to  the  House 
of  Savoy,  rather  than  accept  the  rule  of  the  new  line  of  Counts 
of  Provence.     In  this  way  the  great  county  of  Nice  (including 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    91 

the  valley  of  the  Var,  with  its  tributaries,  the  Tinee  and  the 
Vesubie,  together  with  the  uppermost  bit  of  that  of  the  Verdon, 
as  well  as  the  valley  of  the  Ubaye  which  communicates  with 
the  Tinee  valley  by  easy  passes),  split  off  from  Provence  and 
came  into  the  possession  of  the  Counts  of  Savoy,  this  in- 
heritance including  only  the  middle  bit  of  the  Roja  valley.  Thus 
the  county  of  Provence  ceased  to  have  any  relation  to  the  Alps, 
and  passes  out  of  our  sight; 


We  are  now  in  a  position  to  consider  the  final  struggle  for 
the  Western  Alps  between  France  (the  heir  of  the  Dauphins) 
and  the  House  of  Savoy  (which  in  1418  had  inherited  Piedmont 
from  its  cadet  branch).     It  may  be  roughly  summed  up  in  the 
statement  that  both  parties  gradually  withdrew,  as  it  were,  the 
feelers  which  each  possessed  on  that  slope  of  the  Alps  whereon 
their  interests  were  becoming  less  and  less  important — in  short, 
that  each,  however  unconsciously,  tried  to  make  the  crest  of  the 
Alps  the  frontier  between  their  territories.     In  modern  phrase, 
an  '  adjustment '  of  frontiers  was  urgently  called  for.     Now  in 
1349  the  lordship  of  Faucigny  had  passed,  with  the  Dauphine 
(which  had  held  it  from   1268),  to  France.      But  this  district 
(the  valley  of  the  Arve,   and  so  Chamonix)  is  just  S.  of  the 
Chablais  (held  by  Savoy  from  very  early  times),  and  it  was 
naturally  very  inconvenient  for  the  House  of  Savoy  (which  had 
actually  ruled  in  the  Faucigny,  1 253-1 268)  to  have  a  French 
wedge  thrust  in  between  divers  of  their  own  territories.     Hence 
in  1355  France  gave  up  this  district  (with  Gex,  N.  of  Geneva) 
to  Savoy,  receiving  in  exchange  various  lands  (Voiron,  etc.)  N. 
of  Grenoble.     This  was  the  first  step  in  a  long  drawn  out  pro- 
cess.    In  1529  the  French  occupied  the  marquessate  of  Saluzzo 
(the  lower  Varaita  valley,  of  which  the  uppermost  part  had  for 
ages  belonged  to  the  Dauphine),  but  in  1588  this  was  won  by 
the  House  of  Savoy,  which  in  1601  obtained  a  formal  cession 
from  France  in  exchange  for  the  non-Alpine  lands  of  Bresse, 
Bugey,  and  Gex.     Nevertheless  the  uppermost  bit  of  the  Varaita 


92     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

valley,    with   the   various    districts    in    the    Dora   Riparia   and 
Chisone  valleys  enumerated  in  detail  above  (together  with  the 
lower  Chisone  valley  and  Pinerolo,  1536-1574,  and  1630-1695) 
remained  French,  though  situated  on  that  slope  of  the  Alps  on 
which  the  House  of  Savoy  was  now  setting  firm  foot:  on  the  other 
hand,  the  House  of  Savoy  held  Barcelonnette  with  the  rest  of  the 
county  of  Nice  on  what  was  becoming  the  French  slope  of  the 
Alps.    Hence  an  exchange  was  advantageous  to  both  parties,  and 
so  by  the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  (17 13)  the  House  of  Savoy  gave  up 
Barcelonnette  in  exchange  for  the  French  districts  just  named. 
It  was  during  a  temporary  reoccupation  by  France  of  the  lower 
Chisone  valley  that  there  came  into  existence  for  a  few  years 
(1704-8)  the  quaint  little  Vaudois   'Republic    of  St.   Martin,' 
which  was  composed  of  the  Germanasca  valley  (which  joins  that 
of  the  Chisone  at  Perosa),  and  during  its  short  life  was  under 
the  protection  of  France.     It  was  not  till  i860  that  the  rest  of 
the  county  of  Nice,  with  Savoy  itself,  became  French  finally, 
though  they  had  been  occupied  from  1792  to  181 5.     Thus  the 
frontier  between  France  and  the  realms  of  the  House  of  Savoy 
was  'rectified,'  the   only  exceptions    to   the   'natural  frontier' 
being  (as  was  pointed  out  in  the  last  chapter)  that  the  heads 
of  certain  Alpine  valleys  on  the  S.W.  slope  were  left  (for  the 
sake  of  the  hunting  rights)  in  the  hands  of  Savoy,  which  also 
kept  the  upper  and  lower  bits  of  the  Roja  valley,  as  being  part 
of  the  county  of  Tenda-Ventimiglia,  and  so  not  included  in  the 
cession  of  the  county  of  Nice. 

Meanwhile  the  House  of  Savoy  had  been  gathering  in  territory 
on  the  E.  slope  of  the  Alps  other  than  that  obtained  from  France. 
It  did  indeed  lose  the  district  of  Aigle  (1475)  and  the  barony  of 
Vaud  (1536)  to  Berne,  as  well  as  the  Lower  Vallais  (1475-6)  to 
the  Swiss,  who,  however,  only  occupied  the  Chablais  for  a  few 
years  (1536-1564).  But  in  1418  the  House  of  Savoy  inherited 
Piedmont  from  its  cadet  branch,  having  the  year  before  obtained 
from  the  Emperor  Sigismund  the  title  of  Duke,  and  transferring 
its  capital  in  1559  from  Chambery  to  Turin.  In  1575  it 
obtained  the  county  of  Tenda  and  in  1631-1703  the  marquessate 
of  Montferrat.     By  the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  (17 13)  it  gained  the 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    93 

crown  of  Sicily,  which  in  1720  it  exchanged  for  that  of  Sardinia, 
this  last-named  title  being  only  altered  in  1861  for  the  proud 
name  King  of  Italy.  From  the  Milanese  it  won  by  the  Treaty 
of  Utrecht  (1713)  the  upper  valley  of  the  Sesia,  and  in  1743,  by 
that  of  Worms,  the  Val  d'Ossola  (with  its  side  glens),  the  cession 
of  these  relatively  small  bits  of  territory  being  of  importance  to 
us  as  they  affect  the  political  history  of  Monte  Rosa.  To  com- 
plete our  tale  of  how  the  House  of  Savoy  came  to  rule  over  the 
entire  E.  slope  of  the  Western  Alps  let  us  add  that  Genoa  and 
the  coast  were  won  in  181 5,  while  Lombardy  and  Venetia  fell  in 
respectively  in  1859  and  1866,  but  these  regions  belong  to  the 
Central  and  Eastern  Alps,  of  which  the  political  history  will  be 
sketched  below. 


Political  Peaks  (Western  Alps) 

After  this  long  journey  through  history,  let  us  apply  what  we 
have  learnt  from  it  and  consider  briefly  what  was  formerly  the 
political  status  of  some  of  the  great  mountain  groups  in  the 
Western  Alps,  for,  after  all,  they,  with  their  neighbours  in  the 
Central  and  Eastern  Alps,  form  the  real  subject  of  this  work. 

In  the  Maritime  Alps  the  highest  summits  are  now  Italian, 
even  most  of  those  on  the  watershed,  because  they  came  to  the 
House  of  Savoy  with  the  county  of  Nice  (1388),  and,  for  the 
sake  of  Victor  Emmanuel's  hunting  rights,  were  not  given  over  to 
France  in  i860.  The  highest  purely  French  summit  in  this 
region  is  the  Mont  Pelat  (10,017  ft.)  while  the  frontier  runs  over 
the  Mont  Tinibras  (9948  ft.),  but  the  highest  peak  of  all,  the 
Punta  deir  Argentera  (10,794  ft.)  is  wholly  Italian,  and  rises  on  a 
spur  N.  of  the  main  watershed.  Farther  N.  the  lofty  peaks  (the 
highest  is  the  Aiguille  de  Chambeyron,  11,155  ft.,  which  is  on 
a  spur  W.  of  the  main  ridge)  round  the  head  of  the  Ubaye  valley 
are  now  French,  so  far  as  regards  their  W.  slope,  since  they  were 
handed  over  to  France  at  the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  (17 13),  and  so 
till  the  same  date  was  a  portion  of  their  E.  slope  (towards  the 
head  of  the  Val  Varaita);  but  that  bit  of  the   E.   slope  then 


94     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

(1713)  became  Savoyard,  as  did  the  remainder  of  the  E.  slope  in 
1 60 1,  when  Savoy  got  it  with  the  marquessate  of  Saluzzo. 

Monte  Viso,  itself,  like  so  many  great  Alpine  summits,  rises  on 
a  spur  (this  time  E.)  of  the  main  chain.  Its  S.  slope  was  there- 
fore part  of  the  Dauphine  till  this  became  French  in  1349,  and 
continued  so  till  17 13,  while  its  N.  slope  was  in  the  marquessate 
of  Saluzzo,  and  so  became  Savoyard  in  1601  only. 

The  great  mass  of  the  Dai/phitte  Alps  stands  W.  of  the  main 
chain,  so  that  they  have  been  wholly  French  from  1349,  when 
the  Dauphine  was  sold  to  that  power,  but  their  S.  slope  was 
Provencal,  till  the  Gapengais  passed  to  the  Dauphine'  in  1232. 
In  the  case  of  the  high  ranges  that  rise  in  the  Maurienne  (Arc 
valley)  and  Tarentaise  (upper  Isere  valley)  they  were  always 
Savoyard  from  the  eleventh  century  till  i860,  when  Savoy  was 
ceded  to  France.  The  highest  summit  therein  (the  Grande 
Casse,  12,668  ft.)  is  far  to  the  W.  of  the  main  chain,  so  that  it 
is  now  wholly  French.  But  the  other  slope  of  the  Alps  of  the 
Maurienne  is  Italian  now,  since  it  was  formerly  Savoyard. 
Yet  the  frontier  line  is  so  drawn  that  the  summit  of  the  Roche- 
melon  (11,605  ft.)  was  in  i860  left  in  Italy,  as  it  before  had 
been  for  ages  in  the  hands  of  the  House  of  Savoy,  which  can 
thus  still  boast  of  having  owned  since  the  eleventh  century  the 
first  snow  mountain  in  the  Alps  that  was  ever  scaled  by  man 
(1358).  On  the  E.  side  of  the  main  watershed  rises  the  Grand 
Paradis  group,  of  which  the  N.  slope  has  always  been  Aostan 
(that  is,  Savoyard),  though  the  S.  slope  only  came  to  the  House 
of  Savoy  when  it  acquired  the  Canavese  (upper  Oreo  valley)  in 

1313- 

The  political  history  of  the  chain  oi Mo?tt  B iafic  has  been  singu- 
larly varied.  As  is  well  known,  the  S.S.E.  slopes  are  now  Italian, 
and  the  N.W.  slope  French  (as  part  of  Savoy),  while  the  N.E. 
end  is  Vallaisan  (and  so  Swiss).  What  is  the  explanation  of  this 
threefold  division  ?  It  is  simply  the  result  of  historical  causes. 
The  S.  slope  is  now  Italian  because  the  House  of  Savoy  has  held 
the  valley  of  Aosta,  one  of  its  earliest  possessions,  since  the 
middle  of  the  eleventh  century.  The  N.  slope  (Chamonix,  or  the 
upper  Arve  valley)  came  in  1268  to  the  Dauphine  through  a  lucky 


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THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    95 

marriage  (1241)  with  the  heiress  of  the  Faucigny,  and  remained 
with  that  dynasty  till  1349,  when  it  passed,  with  the  rest  of  its 
dominions,  to  France.  But  this  state  of  things  was  very  incon- 
venient for  the  Count  of  Savoy,  who  had  held  the  district  (1253- 
1268),  as  it  thrust  up  a  great  French  wedge  between  the  districts 
of  Aosta  (S.)  and  the  Chablais  (N.),  so  that  in  1355  he  got  it  by 
exchange  in  return  for  some  lands  near  Voiron.  It  did  not  become 
French  (of  course,  from  1349  to  1355  it  was  part  of  the  Dauphine, 
and  so  not  strictly  of  France)  till  1792,  was  lost  in  1814,  and 
was  won  finally  in  i860.  Thus  from  1355  to  i860  (save  1792- 
18 14)  the  N.  slope  of  the  chain  was  Savoyard,  as  the  S.  slope  has 
always  been.  There  now  remains  to  account  for  that  odd  little 
Swiss  bit  at  the  N.E.  extremity  of  the  chain.  In  the  thirteenth 
century  the  Lower  Vallais  was  taken  from  the  Bishop  of  Sion  by 
the  House  of  Savoy,  but  in  1475-6  it  was  recovered  by  the  bishop, 
with  the  aid  of  the  '  tithings '  of  the  Upper  Vallais,  and  remained 
a  subject  district  till  it  was  freed  in  1798,  becoming  Swiss,  when 
the  Vallais  became  Swiss,  in  18 15.  Note,  too,  that  the  Swiss  and 
French  bits  of  the  chain  (but  not  the  Italian  bit)  are  included  in 
the  Swiss  and  N.  Savoyard  districts  which  were  neutralised  in 
1 81 5  at  the  Congress  of  Vienna. 

As  regards  the  actual  summit  of  Mont  Blanc  the  French  (and 
their  official  maps)  draw  the  frontier  line  slightly  to  the  S.  (over 
the  Mont  Blanc  de  Courmayeur)  of  the  culminating  point.  But 
the  Italians  (and  //^e/V  official  maps)  make  the  frontier  line  follow 
the  watershed,  and  so  pass  over  the  actual  top,  and  not  to  its  S. 
Some  of  the  older  maps  seem  to  be  in  favour  of  the  French  con- 
tention, as  well  as  apparently  the  map  annexed  to  the  report  of 
the  Boundary  Commission  of  1861  ;  but  this  last  map  is  declared 
by  the  Italians  to  reproduce  a  mistake  of  the  original  Sardinian 
map,  published  in  1854,  but  later  corrected.  The  text  of  the 
Report  favours  the  Italian  contention,  stating  that  the  boundary 
follows  the  watershed,  and  so  passes  over  the  summit  of  Mont 
Blanc.  The  Grand  Combin  itself  rises  to  the  N.  of  the  main 
watershed,  so  that  the  W.  slope  of  this  group  was  Savoyard  from 
the  thirteenth  century  to  1476,  but  its  E.  slope  (Val  de  Bagnes 
side)  was  Savoyard  for  a  much  longer  time,  as  the  upper  Val  de 


96    THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Bagnes  was  given  in  1252  by  the  Count  of  Savoy  to  the  lords  of 
Quart  in  the  Aosta  valley,  and  seems  to  have  remained  Aostan 
(despite  many  attacks  by  the  Vallaisans)  till  the  early  seventeenth 
century,  when  it  finally  became  Vallaisan.  Almost  all  the  peaks 
round  AroUa  stand  N.  of  the  main  watershed,  and  so  are  and 
have  always  been  purely  Vallaisan.  Those  on  the  watershed  share 
the  fate  of  the  Matterhorn,  and  are  half- Vallaisan  and  half- Aostan 
(that  is,  Savoyard).  The  highest  summit,  the  Dufourspitze 
(15,217  ft,),  of  Monte  Rosa,  rises  W.  of  the  watershed,  and  so  is 
entirely  Swiss  (that  is,  Vallaisan),  being  thus  the  loftiest  summit 
of  Switzerland,  which  is  not  the  Mischabel  or  Dom,  as  often 
stated.  The  other  summits  of  Monte  Rosa  mainly  rise  on  the 
watershed  itself.  Hence  their  N.  or  W.  slope  has  always  been 
Vallaisan  ;  but  their  S.  and  E.  flank  was  always  in  the  Milanese 
till  in  1 7 13  the  upper  Val  Sesia  was  given  to  the  House  of  Savoy, 
which  also  in  1743  got,  with  the  Val  d'Ossola,  the  side  glen  of 
the  Val  Anzasca,  above  which  Monte  Rosa  towers  up  so  grandly. 
It  is  amusing  to  think  that  the  great  Alpine  summits  have  thus 
had  divers  political  fates.  This,  however,  was  not  due  to  any 
action  on  their  part,  but  to  the  struggles  of  the  human  midgets  at 
their  feet,  who  were  perhaps  regarded  by  the  cloud-capped 
mountains  as  intruders,  dividing  up  that  to  which  they  had  no 
right  save  force.  Till  very  recently,  too,  these  midgets  never 
dared  to  come  within  the  range  of  the  heavy  artillery  (such  as 
avalanches)  of  the  Alpine  giants,  which  came  into  existence 
geologically  before  man,  and  may  perhaps  long  survive  his 
extinction. 

2.  THE  CENTRAL  ALPS 
(From  the  Simplon  to  the  Reschen  Scheideck) 

In  tracing  the  political  history  of  this  region  we  are  at 
once  confronted  by  a  difficulty  which  does  not  exist  either 
in  the  Western  or  in  the  Eastern  Alps.  It  relates  to  the  great 
mountain  masses  which  rise  hke  islets  at  some  distance  from  the 
main  chain,  being  connected  with   it   by  a  narrow  sound   or 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    97 

isthmus  only.  Now  in  the  Western  Alps  such  ranges  passed 
from  one  dynasty  to  the  other  without  any  local  struggle,  the 
S.  slope  of  the  Pelvoux  group  by  virtue  of  purchase  in  1232  by 
the  Counts  of  Albon  from  those  of  Provence,  while  the  Western 
Graians  (between  the  Maurienne  and  the  Tarentaise)  were  quietly 
ceded  in  i860  by  the  king  of  Sardinia  to  France,  together  with 
the  rest  of  Savoy.  Again,  in  the  Eastern  Alps  the  tangled  ranges 
that  stand  N.  of  the  main  chain  were  the  subject  of  a  long 
struggle,  but  of  the  same  struggle  in  which  the  main  chain 
was  involved.  In  the  Central  Alps  the  state  of  things  is  quite 
different.  Here  we  have  a  protracted  struggle  for  the  main 
chain  between  the  holders  of  the  Milanese  and  the  three 
Swiss  districts  which  bordered  immediately  on  that  duchy — the 
Vallais,  Uri,  and  the  Orisons.  Quite  apart  from  and  totally 
distinct  from  this  struggle,  there  is  another  fight  going  on  between 
these  three  border  Swiss  districts  and  their  rivals  (also  Swiss)  to 
the  N. — in  short,  in  the  case  of  the  Swiss  ranges  which  rise  N. 
of  the  main  chain,  a  sort  of  civil  territorial  war  is  waged  which 
has  only  the  remotest  connection,  if  indeed  it  has  any,  with  the 
international  struggle  taking  place  to  the  S.  Thus  while  the 
Vallais,  Uri,  and  the  Orisons  all  contend  with  the  holders  of  the 
Milanese  on  the  S.,  they  also  resist  or  attack  their  neighbours 
to  the  N.  It  is  true  that  Berne  never  got  a  permanent  footing 
in  the  Vallais,  but  Uri  and  the  Vallais  did  secure  pasturages 
which  lie  within  the  limits  of  Berne  and  Unterwalden  and  Olarus, 
while  the  Orisons  greatly  extended  their  domains  towards  the  N. 
by  first  securing  the  support  of  the  communities  which  from  1436 
onwards  formed  the  League  of  the  Ten  Jurisdictions,  and  then  by 
buying  up  the  rights  therein  of  the  lords  of  the  manor. 

We  must  thus  consider  the  international  and  the  local  political 
history  of  the  Central  Alps  in  two  separate  sections,  in  order  not 
to  lose  the  thread  in  this  tangled  labyrinth. 

A. — The  Struggle  with  the  Milanese 

The  kingdom  of  Italy  {i.e.  Lombardy  or  N.  Italy)  lasted  from 
the  conquest  of  the  Lombards  (774)  by  Charles  the  Oreat  till 


98     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  time  of  the  Great  Interregnum  (1254-12 73),  when  it  was 
lost  to  the  Emperors.  It  then  broke  up  into  a  number  of  bits, 
held  by  powerful  cities  or  great  feudal  nobles.  Here  we  have  to 
follow  the  fortunes  of  one  of  these  cities. 

In  1277  the  prosperous  city  of  Milan,  situated  at  the  meeting- 
point  of  the  routes  over  many  Alpine  passes,  and  in  the  fertile 
plain  of  Lombardy,  submitted  to  the  wealthy  House  of  Visconti. 
In  the  course  of  the  fourteentS  century  the  new  lords  of  Milan 
greatly  increased  their  domains  at  the  expense  of  other  families. 
In  1335  they  secured  Como  and  so  Chiavenna  and  the  Valtelline, 
in    1342    Bellinzona   and    Locarno,    about    1350    Bormio  and 
Poschiavo,  in  1354  the  Novarese,  and  in   1378  and   1381   the 
lower  and  the  upper  Val  d'Ossola,  while  in   1395  the  Emperor 
Wenceslaus  raised  them  to  the  dignity  of  dukes.     This  rapidly 
growing  power  naturally  excited  the  jealousy  and  the  fears  of  the 
communities  which  were  rising  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alpine 
chain,  and  so  the  inevitable  struggle  began.     But  before  attempt- 
ing to  trace  its  various  phases  let  us  briefly  sketch  the  future 
political  fortunes  of  the  Milanese,  as  it  may  be  useful  for  the 
understanding  of  the  later  sections  of  our  history.    The  Visconti 
dynasty  came  to  an  end  in  1447,  and  in  1450  was  replaced  by 
that  of  the  Sforzas,  the  founder  of  which  had  married  the  illegiti- 
mate daughter  of  the  last  Visconti.     The  Sforzas  ruled,  at  least 
in  name,  till  1535,  but  the  duchy  was  occupied  at  several  times 
by  invaders,  for  it  had  become  an  object  of  desire  not  merely  to 
the  Swiss,  but  to  the  French  and  to  the  Habsburgs.     Thus  the 
French  held  it  from  1500  to  1512,  and  again  from  1515  to  1521, 
while  from  1512  to  1515  the  Swiss  occupied  it,  under  the  nominal 
rule  of  Maximilian  Sforza,  whose  brother  ruled  from  1521   to 
1535.      On   the   extinction   of    the    Sforza    family   (1535)   the 
Milanese  reverted   to   the    Emperor  Charles  v.;    in    1540   he 
granted  it  to  his  son,  Philip,  who  in  1556  became  king  of  Spain. 
It  remained  part  of  the  Spanish  inheritance  till  17 14,  when  by 
the  Treaty  of  Utrecht  it  became  Austrian,  which  it  had  been 
practically  since   1706.      Towards  the   end  of  the   eighteenth 
century  the  Milanese  went  through  a  rapid  succession  of  political 
changes.     In  1796  it  formed  part  of  the  Lombard  Republic;  in 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    99 

1797,  of  the  Cisalpine  Republic  ;  in  1802,  of  the  Italian  Republic; 
and  in  1805,  of  the  kingdom  of  Italy.  Finally,  in  1814,  it  returned 
to  the  House  of  Austria,  which  ruled  therein  till  1859,  when  the 
Milanese  became  part  of  the  Sardinian  kingdom,  and  soon  after 
(1861)  of  the  new  kingdom  of  United  Italy. 

But  during  these  centuries  the  Milanese  had  sustained  both 
permanent  losses  (the  Val  Leventina  in  1440,  Poschiavoin  i486, 
Bellinzona  in  1500,  Lugano  and  Locarno  in  1512)  as  well  as 
temporary  losses  (Bormio  and  Chiavenna,  with  the  Valtelline, 
from  1512  to  1797).  These  losses  were  gains  to  the  Swiss,  and 
we  must  now  turn  to  that  side  of  the  subject. 

A  glance  at  a  map  will  show  that  between  the  Simplon  and 
the  Stelvio  Pass  four  long  valleys  run  up  from  the  S.  to  the  main 
watershed  of  the  Alps,  in  each  case  seeming  to  thrust  back  this 
watershed  towards  the  N.  These  valleys  are  those  of  Ossola  or 
of  the  Tosa,  of  Leventina  or  the  Ticino,  of  the  Liro  or  of  San 
Giacomo  (above  Chiavenna),  and  of  the  Valtelline  or  of  the 
Adda  (the  history  of  the  second  pair  being  identical).  Being 
both  easy  of  access  from  the  N.,  and  commanding  the  rich  plains 
on  the  S.,  these  valleys  formed  the  scene  of  the  prolonged 
struggle  the  history  of  which  we  are  studying.  It  resulted  in  the 
permanent  loss  of  the  Val  Leventina  only,  the  three  other  glens 
being  only  held  for  a  longer  or  shorter  time  by  the  invaders  from 
the  N.  In  fact,  this  struggle  is  really  a  series  of  three  more  or 
less  separate  struggles,  carried  out  by  different  actors. 

(a).  Let  us  consider  first  the  Val  d' Ossola,  or  the  Tosa  valley, 
which  at  its  head  (the  Val  Formazza)  is  still  inhabited  by  German- 
speaking  colonists  from  the  Vallais,  who  came  thither  in  the 
thirteenth  century.  Into  the  Tosa  valley  lead,  directly  or  in- 
directly, all  the  great  passes  over  the  Alps  from  the  Upper 
Vallais  to  the  E. — the  Monte  Moro,  the  Antrona  Pass,  the 
Simplon,  the  Albrun  Pass,  and  the  Gries  Pass.  Now  all  these 
passes  were  very  important  from  the  commercial  point  of  view, 
especially  the  Gries,  as  over  it  came  by  way  of  the  Grimsel  much 
merchandise  to  and  from  Berne.  Hence,  quite  apart  from  any 
strategical  considerations,  the  possession  of  the  Val  d'Ossola  meant 
much  to  the  Swiss,  and  in  particular  to  the  Upper  Vallaisans. 


lOO     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

A  short  occupation  in  1410  by  Uri,  Obwalden,  Glarus,  Zug,  and 
Lucerne  was  followed  by  a  longer  one  (1411-14)  by  all  the  Con- 
federates save  Berne  {i.e.  Uri,  Schwyz,  Unterwalden,  Lucerne, 
Zug,  Glarus,  and  Zurich),  who  had,  however,  to  yield  possession  to 
the  Duke  of  Savoy's  troops  which  crossed  the  Simplon  and  so 
took  them  in  the  rear.  Retaken  in  14 16  by  the  Confederates 
(save  Berne  and  Schwyz),  helped  by  the  Vallaisans,  the  Val 
d'Ossola  had  to  be  given  up,  like  the  other  Milanese  conquests 
by  the  Swiss,  after  the  disastrous  battle  of  Arbedo  in  1422.  But 
in  October-November,  1425,  another  raid  by  the  Confederates 
(helped  this  time  by  Berne  as  well  as  by  the  Vallais)  across  the 
Albrun  Pass  led  to  a  short  occupation,  which  came  to  an  end  in 
1426,  when  the  valley  was  sold  back  to  the  Duke  of  Milan.  The 
prize  was,  however,  too  tempting  to  be  definitively  given  up,  and 
was  once  more  held  from  1512  to  151 5,  with  other  Italian  con- 
quests, by  all  the  twelve  Confederates,  save  Appenzell.  But  after 
the  fight  of  Marignano  (1515)  the  Val  d'Ossola  was  finally  lost 
to  the  Swiss,  despite  their  century's  struggle. 

{b).  The  Swiss  were  more  fortunate  in  the  case  of  the  Val 
Leventina  or  the  Ticino  valley,  down  which  now  thunder  the 
huge  engines  of  the  St.  Gotthard  railway,  and  of  the  districts 
lying  to  the  S.  of  that  Val.  The  St.  Gotthard  is  the  great  pass 
by  which  Uri  communicates  directly  with  the  S.,  and  so  the  men 
of  Uri  did  their  best  to  extend  their  power  in  that  direction,  as 
well  as  in  others,  for  they  could  not  abide  to  be  shut  up  for  good 
in  their  narrow  valley  of  the  Reuss.  Hence  in  1403,  with  the 
help  of  Obwalden,  they  occupied  the  long-coveted  Val  Leventina 
(which  properly  belonged  to  the  metropolitan  see  of  Milan),  and 
in  14 1 9  further  secured  their  position  by  the  purchase  from  the 
Sax  lords  (who  ruled  in  the  adjoining  Val  Mesocco,  and  had  in 
1403  taken  the  town  from  Milan)  of  Bellinzona,  which  is  the  key 
to  the  entrance  into  the  mountains.  But  both  were  lost  in  1422 
after  the  fatal  day  of  Arbedo.  A  second  attempt  was  more 
successful.  This  time  it  was  made  by  Uri  alone,  which  in  1440 
won  back  the  Val  Leventina  (and  ruled  over  it  till  1798),  while  in 
1500  (helped  by  Schwyz  and  Nidwalden)  Uri  secured  for  good 
Bellinzona,  together  with  the  Val  Blenio  and  the  '  Riviera '  or 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    loi 

region  between  Biasca,  at  the  junction  of  the  last-named  valley 
with  the  Val  Leventina,  and  Bellinzona — this  entire  district  being 
ruled  till  1798  by  the  three  Cantons,  whose  names  are  still  borne 
by  the  three  fifteenth  century  castles  at  Bellinzona.  Finally,  in 
15 12,  the  Swiss,  on  the  point  of  becoming  the  masters  of  Milan, 
occupied,  and  that  for  good,  the  fertile  region  of  Locarno,  the  Val 
Maggia,  Lugano,  and  Mendrisio,  and  did  not  lose  them  in  1515 
as  they  lost  Milan  itself:  this  region  was  ruled  by  all  the  twelve 
Confederates,  Appenzell  having  no  share  (admitted  in  15 13).  In 
1798  the  Swiss,  however,  lost  all  their  Italian  conquests  to  the 
Helvetic  Republic,  of  which  the  Canton  of  Bellinzona  took  in 
that  town  and  the  Val  Leventina,  while  the  Canton  of  Lugano 
comprised  the  acquisitions  of  15 12.  But  in  1803  both  these 
Cantons  were  united  to  form  the  single  one  of  Tessin  or  Ticino, 
which  was  then  admitted  to  full  rights  as  one  of  the  19 
Cantons. 

Such  is  the  history  of  '  Italian  Switzerland,'  a  region  which  at 
first  astonishes  the  traveller,  as  he  cannot  see  how  what  are 
clearly  in  point  of  climate,  etc.,  parts  of  Italy  can  possibly  belong 
to  the  Swiss.  It  simply  consists  of  the  conquests  made  by  the 
Swiss  in  the  fifteenth  century,  and  not  lost  by  them  (as  was  the 
Val  d'Ossola).  This  fact  accounts  also  for  the  purely  conven- 
tional nature  of  the  frontier  line,  especially  S.  of  Lugano,  for  it 
extends  to  within  three  miles  of  the  town  of  Como  (which,  no 
doubt,  the  Swiss  would  have  liked  to  swallow  also),  while  the 
Canton  of  Tessin  includes  most  of  the  Lake  of  Lugano  and  the 
most  northerly  bit  of  the  Lago  Maggiore.  Scarcely  anywhere 
else  can  historical  geography  explain  a  more  curious  state  of 
things,  for  Tessin  is  simply  a  great  slice  of  the  Milanese  in  the 
hands  of  non-Italians. 

ic).  We  now  pass  to  the  case  of  the  possessions  (that  is,  the 
Valtelline)  held  by  the  Orisons,  or  the  Three  Leagues  of  Reetia, 
in  the  Milanese.  But  we  must  take  care  not  to  include  in  these 
the  Val  Bregagha  (down  which  runs  the  road  from  the  Maloja 
Pass  towards  Chiavenna),  for,  though  in  803  Charles  the  Great 
bestowed  it  on  the  Bishop  of  Como,  in  960  it  was  given  by 
the  Emperor  Otto  i.  to  the  Bishop  of  Coire  (who  thus  held 


I02     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

both  slopes  of  the  Septimer  Pass,  the  principal  mediaeval 
route  over  this  portion  of  the  Alps),  and  has  never  since  been 
lost  by  the  Grisons,  his  heirs  in  title.  We  may  also  dispose 
at  once  of  the  case  of  the  Val  Mesocco  (or  Misoxthal),  which 
in  1026  was  granted  (in  order  to  guard  the  Alpine  passes)  to 
the  Bishop  of  Como.  But  his  powers,  by  12 19  at  the  latest,  had 
passed  into  the  hands  of  the  Sax  lords,  by  whom  the  valley 
(included  in  the  Upper  Reetian  League  since  1480)  was  sold 
in  1494  to  the  Trivulzio  family  of  Milan,  which  in  1496  entered 
the  Upper  Rsetian  League,  and  in  1549  sold  to  it  all  their 
manorial  rights.  As  the  Val  Mesocco  joins  the  Val  Leventina 
at  Bellinzona  its  history  forms  a  link  between  that  of  the 
Milanese  conquests  of  the  Grisons  and  those  of  Uri  and  its 
allies.  Further,  the  possession  of  this  valley  by  non-Milanese 
means  that  both  sides  of  the  San  Bernardino  Pass  have  since 
1496  been  in  Raetian  {i.e.  practically  Swiss)  hands,  a  fact  which 
has  had  its  influence  on  the  historical  fortunes  of  that  pass, 
early  known  as  the  '  Vogelberg '  or  '  Mons  Avium,'  but  in  the 
fifteenth  century  renamed  from  a  chapel  dedicated  to  San 
Bernardino  of  Siena,  on  its  S.  slope. 

Apart  from  the  cases  of  the  Val  Bregaglia  and  the  Val 
Mesocco,  the  struggle  in  this  portion  of  the  Alps  lies  between 
the  holders  of  the  Milanese,  as  successors  in  title  (in  1335) 
of  the  Bishop  and  city  of  Como,  and  the  Three  Rjetian 
Leagues.  Li  775  Charles  the  Great,  after  overcoming  the 
Lombards,  made  a  gift  of  the  Valtelline  (with  Poschiavo  and 
Bormio,  as  it  would  seem  from  the  confirmation  granted  in  843) 
to  the  monastery  of  St.  Denis  near  Paris,  which,  probably, 
never  exercised  any  real  power  in  these  remote  districts.  At 
any  rate,  in  824  Lothair  i.  gave  them  to  the  Bishop  of  Como 
(who  had  received  Chiavenna  in  803),  though  in  841  he 
reserved  the  suzerainty  to  St.  Denis.  But  at  some  later  date 
these  districts  (save  Chiavenna)  were  committed  to  the  charge 
of  the  Bishop  of  Coire,  a  faithful  friend  of  the  Emperors,  and 
so  thought  worthy  of  being  intrusted  with  the  guardianship  of 
the  Alpine  passes.  However,  from  at  least  the  early  thirteenth 
century  the  authority  of  the  bishops  was  practically  superseded 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    103 

in  Bormio  and  Poschiavo  by  that  of  their  powerful  vassals,  the 
Matsch  family,  which,  further,  in  13 13,  obtained  from  the 
Emperor  Henry  vii.  a  mortgage  of  the  Valtelline.  But  the 
rising  power  of  the  Visconti  at  Milan  proved  too  strong,  after 
their  entrance  on  the  lands  of  Como  (1335),  even  for  the 
Matsch  family.  About  1350  (the  Valtelline  in  1336  already) 
all  these  districts  were  lost  to  them  and  their  master,  the 
Bishop  of  Coire,  and  formed  part  of  the  Milanese,  soon  (1395) 
to  become  an  independent  duchy  (Poschiavo  was  again  held 
by  the  Bishop  of  Coire  from  1394  to  1470).  On  the  other 
hand,  Chiavenna  had  been  given  in  803  by  Charles  the  Great 
to  the  Bishops  of  Como,  whom  the  Bishops  of  Coire  were 
never  able  to  oust,  despite  several  attempts,  and  whose 
supremacy  in  that  region  they  acknowledged  in  12 19. 

Now  in  1385  the  ruler  of  Milan,  Barnabas  Visconti,  was 
slain  by  his  nephew,  Gian  Galeazzo,  but  the  youngest  son  of 
Barnabas,  named  Mastino,  escaped  and  took  refuge  with  the 
Bishop  of  Coire,  to  whom  in  1404  he  made  a  donation  of  all 
his  rights  over  Bormio,  the  Valtelline,  Poschiavo,  and 
Chiavenna.  This  donation  was  the  pretext,  in  virtue  of  which 
the  bishop  (and  his  heirs,  the  Three  Raetian  Leagues)  claimed 
possession  of  these  districts.  But  they  actually  acquired  them 
at  different  times — Poschiavo  in  i486,  Bormio,  Chiavenna,  and 
the  Valtelline  in  151 2.  Poschiavo  was  never  lost  again,  while 
the  other  districts  remained  in  the  hands  of  the  Rgetian 
Leagues  till  1797,  then  passing  to  the  Cisalpine  Republic,  and 
henceforth  sharing  the  fortunes  of  the  rest  of  the  Milanese 
(Italian  Republic,  1802 ;  kingdom  of  Italy,  1805 ;  Austria, 
1814;  Sardinian  kingdom,  1859;  and  United  Italy,  1861). 
Let  us  note,  too,  that  the  three  villages  (Dongo,  Domaso,  and 
Gravedona)  near  the  N.  end  of  the  Lake  of  Como,  which  are 
known  as  the  '  Tre  Pievi  '  (the  three  parishes),  submitted  to 
the  Raetian  Leagues  in  15 12,  but  were  lost  to  them  in  1525, 
and  became  again  part  of  the  Milanese. 

The  valley  of  Livigno,  which  lies  on  the  N.  slope  of  the 
main  Alpine  chain,  shared  throughout  the  fortunes  of  the 
county  of  Bormio,  in  which  it  was  included,  and  hence,  with 


104     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  Val  di  Lei  (in  the  county  of  Chiavenna)  is,  as  we  pointed 
out  in  the  last  chapter,  the  only  bit  of  Italian  territory  which 
stretches  over  on  to  the  non-Italian  slope  of  the  Alps.  In  1635 
Livigno  was  the  scene  of  a  remarkable  campaign  by  Rohan 
and  the  French  against  the  Imperial  troops,  and  it  is  most 
interesting  to  trace  out  on  the  spot,  as  the  writer  of  these  lines 
has  done,  the  various  phases  of  this  little  Alpine  war.  This 
campaign  of  Rohan  formed  part  of  the  great  struggle  between 
the  French  and  Spanish  for  the  possession  of  the  Valtelline, 
by  means  of  which  the  Spanish  holders  of  the  Milanese  could 
easily  communicate  with  the  Austrian  branch  of  the  Habsburgers 
in  the  Tyrol.  That  struggle  was  prolonged  for  nearly  twenty 
years  (1620-1639),  the  French  holding  the  Valtelline  1624-7 
and  1635-7,  a^d  the  Pope  in  1623  and  in  1627,  while  the 
Spaniards  occupied  it  for  most  of  the  remainder  of  the  time. 
The  famous  Grisons  leader,  Georg  Jenatsch,  supported  the 
French  in  1635,  but  then  went  over  to  the  Spanish  side  till  he 
was  assassinated  in  1639,  and  a  little  later  the  Spaniards 
restored  the  valley  to  the  RcCtian  Leagues. 

Political  Peaks  (Central  Alps) 

The  peaks  which  rise  on  or  near  the  watershed  of  the  Central 
Alps  are  not  so  well  known  to  most  people  as  are  those  in  a 
corresponding  situation  in  the  Western  Alps.  The  two  loftiest 
summits  of  the  Lepontine  Alps,  the  Monte  Leone  (11,684  ft.) 
and  the  Blindenhorn  (11,103  ^^•)^  both  rise  on  the  watershed, 
and  so  have  shared  the  fortunes  of  the  Upper  Vallais  and  of 
the  Val  Formazza,  the  highest  reach  of  the  Val  d'Ossola.  But 
one  of  the  next  in  height,  the  Basodino  (10,749  ft.),  rises  to  the 
E.  of  the  main  chain,  though  it,  too,  is  on  a  political  frontier, 
namely  that  between  the  Val  Formazza  and  the  Val  Maggia, 
so  that  its  E.  slope  has  been  Swiss  since  15 12  only.  If  we  go 
on  in  a  N.E.  direction,  we  find  that  the  two  highest  summits 
of  the  Gotthard  group,  the  Pizzo  Rotondo  (10,489  ft.)  and  the 
Pizzo  di  Pesciora  (10,247  ft.),  are  on  the  main  watershed  ;  hence 
their  W.  slope  is  Vallaisan,  but  their  E.  slope,  being  in  Tessin, 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    105 

is  Swiss  since  1440,  when  the  Val  Leventina  was  finally  acquired 
by  Uri.     The  third  peak  in  that  group,  the  Wyttenwasserstock, 
has,  however,  a  still  more   curious    history  :    its  E.  and  lower 
point  (9922  ft.)  is  on  the  principal  watershed,  but  it   rises  also 
at  the   point  of  junction  of  the  boundaries  of  the  cantons  of 
Uri,  Vallais,  and  Tessin,  and  thus  is  wholly  Swiss,  though  its 
different  slopes  have  become  Swiss  at  different   times — the  N. 
slope  in   1291    (Uri),  the   E.   slope  in    1803  (Tessin),  and   the 
W.  slope  in   1815  (Vallais);  further,   this  lower  summit  sends 
down  streams  to  three  seas  (like  the  Pizzo  Lunghino,  of  which 
more  below),  in  this  case,  by  the  Ticino  and  the  Po  to  the 
Hadriatic,    by   the   Rhone  to  the  Mediterranean,  and  by  the 
Reuss  and  Rhine  to  the  North  Sea.     On  the  other  hand,  the 
far  finer  higher  summit  (10,119  ft.)  rises  simply  on  the  frontier 
between  the  Vallais  and    Uri.     Continuing   our   journey  east- 
wards we  note  that  both  Scopi  (10,499  ft.)  and  the  Piz  Medel 
(10,509  ft.)  in  the  Adula  Alps  rise  on  the  watershed  between 
the  Grisons  and  Tessin,  as  does  the  culminating  point  of  the 
group,  the  Rheinwaldliorn  (11,149  ft.).       With  the  last-named 
peak  we  finally  quit  Tessin,  which  since  the  Basodino  and  the 
Pizzo    Rotondo    has    had  such  a  curious  influence    on   many 
summits  on  the  main  watershed,  showing  thus  that  it  is  purely 
by  an  historical  accident   or   oddity  that  Switzerland    extends 
across   the    great    line  of  the   Alps.      On   either   side   of  the 
Spliigen  Pass    Piz   Tambo  (10,749    ft-)    and    the    Surettahorn 
(9945  ft-)  rise  on  the  great  watershed,  and  also,  to  our  relief,  on 
the  frontier  between  the  Grisons  and  Italy.     But  beyond,  at 
the  Pizzo  Gallegione  (10,201  ft.)  the  poHtical  frontier  dips  S.E., 
so  that  while  that  summit  is  shared  by  Italy  and  the  Grisons, 
its   neighbours   to   the    E.,    such    as    the    Pizzo    della    Duana 
(10,279  ft-)  and  the  Pizzo  Lunghino  (9121  ft.),  are,  though  on 
the  main  watershed,  yet  not  merely  wholly  Swiss,  but  belong 
wholly  to  one   single  Swiss  canton,  for  both  the  Avers  valley 
and  the  Oberhalbstein,  as  well  as  the  Val  Bregaglia,  form  part 
of  the  Grisons.      The  Pizzo   Lunghino,  too,  occupies  a  very 
remarkable     topographical     position,     since    from    its     flanks 
streams  flow  to  three  seas,  in  this  case,  by  the  Rhine  to  the 


io6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

North  Sea,  by  the  Maira  and  Adda  and  Po  to  the  Mediter- 
ranean, and  by  the  Inn  to  the  Black  Sea :  it  is,  too,  the  point 
at  which  the  ranges  enclosing  the  Engadine  split  off  from  each 
other.  Keeping  along  that  to  the  S.E.,  and  so  on  the  main 
crest  of  the  Alps,  we  find  that  almost  all  the  higher  summits 
of  the  Bernina  Alps  are  half  in  the  Grisons  and  half  in  the 
Valtelline  {i.e.  Italy) :  such  is  very  nearly  the  case  with  Piz 
Bernina  (13,304  ft.),  and  quite  the  case  with  Piz  Roseg  (12,934 
ft.)  and  Piz  Zupo  (13,151  ft.),  but  the  splendid  Monte  della 
Disgrazia  (12,067  ft.)  is  an  exception  to  this  general  rule,  for 
it  rises  S.  of  the  watershed,  and  so  is  wholly  within  the 
Valtelline,  though  it  was  wholly  Swiss,  or  rather  Rsetian, 
from  15 1 2  to  1797. 

More  to  the  E.,  between  the  Bernina,  Reschen  Scheideck, 
and  Stelvio  Passes,  the  physical  watershed  and  the  political 
frontier  seem  to  take  a  pleasure  in  not  agreeing  with  one 
another,  the  cause  being  that  Poschiavo,  and  the  upper 
Miinster  valley,  though  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps,  are 
politically  Swiss,  while  the  valley  of  Livigno,  though  on  the 
N.  slope  of  the  great  watershed,  is  politically  Italian.  Start- 
ing from  the  Bernina  Pass  the  physical  watershed  joins  the 
political  frontier  near  the  Corno  di  Carapo  (10,844  ft),  which, 
therefore,  like  its  neighbour  on  the  S.E.,  the  Cima  di  Saoseo 
(10,752  ft.),  is  half  Swiss  and  half  Italian,  though  the  two 
loftiest  summits  between  the  Bernina  Pass  and  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  or  the  Stelvio,  namely  the  Cima  di  Piazzi  (11,283  ft.) 
and  the  Cima  Viola  (11,103  ft-))  ^'^'^^  to  the  E.  of  the  frontier, 
and  so  are  wholly  Italian  (though  Swiss  from  151 2  to  1797), 
as  being  situated  in  the  county  of  Bormio.  From  the  Corno 
di  Campo  the  watershed  runs,  roughly  speaking,  N.E.,  along 
the  E.  side  of  the  Livigno  valley,  and  on  the  rolling  plateau 
which  forms  the  summit-level  of  the  Fraele  Pass  (6398  ft.) 
meets  the  political  frontier,  which  has  made  a  long  round, 
first  N.,  then  N.E.,  finally  S.E.,  and  formed  the  boundary 
between  the  Engadine  and  the  Livigno  valley — Piz  Languard 
(10,716  ft.)  stands  rather  to  the  W.  of  the  frontier,  so  is  wholly 
Swiss.     But,  having  met,  the  two  boundaries  part  at  once,  not 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    107 

to  meet  once  more  till  they  reach  the  Urtiolaspitze  (9551  ft.) 
to  the  N.E.  of  the  village  of  Miinster  in  the  Miinster  valley. 
The  political  frontier  soon  bears  S.E.  from  the  Fraele  Pass 
in  order  to  gain  the  Stelvio  Pass  (9055  ft),  just  N.  of  which 
rises  the  low  summit  named  the  Dreisprachenspitze  (9328  ft.), 
as  it  marks  the  meeting-point  of  the  districts  in  which  Italian, 
German,  and  Ladin  are  spoken,  and  also,  since  1859,  the 
meeting-point  of  the  political  frontiers  between  Switzerland, 
Italy,  and  Austria :  the  Austro-Italian  frontier  runs  N.  and 
S.  across  the  Stelvio  (the  carriage  road,  of  course,  runs  E. 
and  W.),  that  between  Switzerland  and  Italy,  which  we  are 
following,  keeping  N.  for  a  while  till  it  bends  N.W.  to  cut 
across  the  Miinster  valley  before  reaching  the  Urtiolaspitze. 
Meanwhile  from  the  Fraele  Pass  the  watershed  keeps  N.E,  to  the 
Ofen  Pass  (7071  ft.),  and  then  bears  E.  to  the  Urtiolaspitze. 
Both  continue  for  a  short  distance  along  the  ridge  to  the  N. 
of  the  Urtiolaspitze,  but  then  the  political  frontier  keeps  N. 
so  as  to  reach  the  Lower  Engadine  at  Martinsbruck,  while  the 
watershed  runs  E.  to  the  Reschen  Scheideck  Pass  (4902  ft.),  our 
limit  between  the  Central  and  the  Eastern  Alps.  Surely  there  is 
no  other  region  in  the  Alps  where  the  physical  and  the  political 
frontiers  are  so  interlaced  as  in  that  which  we  have  just  been 
describing,  and  this  simply  for  reasons  connected  with  the 
political  history  of  the  district.  Did  the  theory  of  natural 
frontiers  hold  good  in  this  part  of  the  Alps,  Poschiavo  and  the 
upper  Miinster  valley  should  be  respectively  Italian  and 
Tyrolese,  while  Livigno  should  be  Swiss.  Hardly  anywhere 
else  in  the  Alps,  save  in  the  Maritime  Alps,  or  near  Caprile  or 
Cortina,  in  the  Dolomites,  does  the  traveller  realise  better  the 
meaning  of  the  phrase  '  a  conventional  frontier.'  It  is  history, 
and  history  alone,  which  can  supply  the  key  to  such  com- 
plicated puzzles. 

B. — The  Struggle  towards  the  North 

We    must    now   turn    our   eyes    towards  the   North.      After 
the    reversion  (1032)    of    the    kingdom    of   Burgundy   to   the 


io8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Empire,  Conrad  ii.  committed  (1038)  the  rule  in  Burgundy 
(roughly  speaking,  the  W.  half  of  present  Switzerland)  as  well 
as  the  duchy  of  Alamannia  or  of  Swabia  (roughly  speaking,  the 
E.  half  of  present  Switzerland),  to  his  son,  Henry,  who,  elected 
next  year  to  the  Empire,  was  able  to  maintain  his  power  in 
these  regions,  with  a  strong  hand,  till  his  death  (1056).  In 
1057  both  dignities  were  bestowed  by  Henry's  widow  on  her 
favourite,  Rudolf  of  Rheinfelden,  who,  not  content  with  this, 
set  himself  up  in  1077  as  rival  Emperor,  supported  by  the 
Pope,  against  his  brother-in-law,  Henry  iv.,  though  this  act 
of  daring  cost  him  his  crown  and  his  life  (1080).  Rudolf's 
heir  and  son-in-law,  Berchtold  of  Zaringen,  however,  continued 
the  struggle  for  these  lands  (though  not  for  the  crown) 
against  the  Hohenstaufen  family,  which  Henry  iv.  had  in- 
vested (1079)  with  the  duchy  of  Swabia.  The  Zaringen  dynasty 
was  successful,  for  in  1097  the  Hohenstaufens  were  pushed 
back  behind  the  Rhine  and  the  imperial  fief  of  Ziirich 
given  to  their  rival,  while  in  11 27  the  Emperor  made  the 
Duke  of  Zaringen  '  Rector  of  Burgundy,'  or  his  representa- 
tive in  that  region,  thus  practically  abdicating,  so  far  as 
regards  this  portion  of  his  realm,  in  favour  of  the  powerful 
Zaringen  dynasty.  The  Zaringen  family  became  extinct  in 
1218  (though  by  the  foundation  of  Fribourg,  about  1177,  and 
of  Berne  in  1191,  it  left  an  indelible  mark  on  its  dominions), 
and  all  its  fiefs  reverted  to  the  Empire,  the  power  of  which  in 
these  regions  was  getting  weaker  and  weaker.  On  the  one 
hand,  various  '  free  cities  '  were  extending  their  borders,  and 
next,  a  new  and  even  more  powerful  family  than  the  Zaringens, 
that  of  Habsburg  (the  original  seat  of  which  was  the  castle  of 
Habsburg,  near  Brugg,  in  the  Swiss  Aargau)  in  1264  inherited 
the  wide  domains  of  the  Counts  of  Kyburg  (the  castle  of  that 
name  is  near  Winterthur),  themselves  the  heirs  (11 73)  of  the 
earlier  Counts  of  Lenzburg  (the  castle  of  that  name  is  not  far 
from  Aarau).  When  in  1273  the  head  of  this  great  house, 
Rudolf,  became  Emperor,  it  seemed  as  if  nothing  could  stop  its 
victorious  progress  in  the  Alpine  lands  of  the  Central  Alps. 
But  in  those  lands,  during  the  prolonged  struggle  between 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    109 

the  Emperor  and  his  great  nobles,  a  set  of  tiny  free  communities 
had  been  freeing  themselves  from  any  allegiance  save  that  to 
the  Empire,  a  position  which  in  those  times  meant  practical 
independence.  Hitherto  the  Habsburgers  had,  as  regards  these 
communities,  appeared  as  distant  and  so  not  much  to  be  feared 
feudal  overlords  or  lords  of  the  manor.  But  on  April  16,  1291, 
Rudolf  purchased  from  the  abbey  of  Murbach,  in  Alsace, 
its  town  of  Lucerne,  situated  close  to  these  free  communi- 
ties, which  thus  foresaw  the  approach  of  a  desperate  struggle 
with  this  rapidily  advancing  house.  Rudolf  died  on  July  15, 
1 291,  and,  on  August  i  following,  the  representatives  of  these 
communities,  Uri,  Schwyz,  and  Unterwalden,  concluded  the 
'Everlasting  League'  (mainly  a  renewal  of  an  older  alliance 
probably  made  during  the  Great  Interregnum,  1 254-1 273),  which 
was  the  germ  of  the  Swiss  Confederation.  That  League  was 
destined  to  stem  the  progress  of  the  Habsburgers  in  the 
Central  Alps.  But  the  goal  was  only  won  by  the  surprising 
victories  of  Morgarten  (1315),  of  Sempach  (1386),  and  of 
Nafels  (1388),  while  the  League  was  strengthened  in  1332  by 
the  entrance  of  Lucerne,  and  in  1352  by  that  of  Glarus  and 
Zug,  and  by  the  adhesion  of  the  non-Alpine  towns  of  Zurich 
(i35i)and  of  Berne  (1353).  These  were  the  8  Cantons,  the 
number  being  later  raised  to  13  by  the  admission  in  15 13 
of  the  mountain  land  of  Appenzell,  as  well  as  of  the  non- 
Alpine  towns  of  Fribourg  (1481),  Soleure  (1481),  Bale  (1501), 
and  Schaffhausen  (1501).  After  1499  the  Swiss  Confederation 
was  no  longer  considered  to  be  subject  to  the  jurisdiction  of 
the  Imperial  Chamber  (the  highest  judicial  tribunal,  erected 
in  1495),  though  it  was  only  by  the  Treaty  of  Westphalia  (1648) 
that  its  independence  of  the  Empire  was  formally  recognised. 
In  18 1 5,  at  the  Congress  of  Vienna,  the  whole  of  the  Swiss 
Confederation  was  made  neutral  territory,  and  its  neutrality 
was  guaranteed  by  the  Great  Powers  (including  England).  The 
old  system  broke  up  in  1798,  but  on  the  reconstitution  of 
the  Helvetic  Republic  by  Napoleon's  Act  of  Mediation  (1803) 
with  19  Cantons,  the  Alpine  lands  of  the  Grisons,  Tessin, 
and  Vaud,  were  received  as  full  members,  as  well  as  the  non- 


no     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Alpine  lands  of  St.  Gall,  Thurgau,  and  Aargau.  The  admission 
in  1815  of  the  Alpine  district  of  the  Vallais,  as  well  as  of 
Neuchatel  and  Geneva,  completed  the  Swiss  Confederation 
as  it  exists  to-day,  with  its  22  Cantons. 

This  brief  sketch  of  the  territorial  growth  of  the  Swiss 
Confederation  has  been  given  here  because  it  helps  us  better 
to  understand  the  proper  subject  of  this  sub-section,  the 
struggle  of  the  Alpine  Cantons  among  themselves.  That 
domestic  struggle  would  have  been  impossible  had  not  these 
previously  assured  themselves  against  external  dangers  on 
the  north — in  short,  against  the  encroachments  of  the  Habs- 
burgers.  Once  secured  against  that  enemy  they  could  dispute 
freely  among  themselves. 

This  local  struggle  resolves  itself  from  our  point  of  view 
(for  in  this  work  we  deal  with  the  Alpine  Cantons  only  and 
not  all  the  Swiss  Cantons  in  general)  into  three  sets  of  struggles, 
the  protagonists  in  each  case  being  oddly,  yet  naturally, 
just  those  three  border  lands  of  the  Vallais,  Uri,  and  the 
Grisons,  whom  we  have  watched  during  their  more  or  less 
successful  attempts  to  secure  to  themselves  some  of  the  rich 
lands  on  the  other  slope  of  the  Alps.  Each  now  strives  not 
with  the  common  enemy,  the  holder  of  the  Milanese,  but  with 
its  neighbour  on  the  north,  from  which  they  are  more  or  less 
securely  separated  by  the  Alpine  ranges  rising  N.  of  the 
main  chain,  for  a  passage  over  them  can  be  forced  at  several 
points  just  as  it  can  across  the  great  divide  itself. 


{a)  The  Vallais  and  Berne. — The  Vallais  (which  takes  its 
name  from  the  old  designation  '  Vallis  Poenina,'  and  so 
should  be  spelt  as  above,  the  ordinary  omission  of  one 
of  the  'Is'  dating  only  from  about  1800)  now  comprises 
the  upper  valley  of  the  Rhone,  from  its  source  to  the  Lake  of 
Geneva.  But  earlier  its  limits  were  narrower.  By  the  donation 
of  temporal  jurisdiction  made  in  999  by  Rudolf  iii.,  king  of 
Transjurane  Burgundy,  to  the  Bishop  of  Sion,  it  is  probable 
that  the  lower  limit  was  fixed  at  about  Martigny.     But  the  en- 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    iii 

croachments  of  the  House  of  Savoy  (partly  in  their  character 
as    '  protectors '    of    the    great    monastery    of    St.    Maurice), 
especially   in   the   thirteenth    century,    pushed   back   the   limit 
of  the  bishop's  rule  to  the  small  river  Morge,  which,  flowing 
from   the   Sanetsch    Pass,   joins   the    Rhone   just   below   Sion. 
That  was  the  boundary  settled  in    1384  (confirmed  in    1392) 
between    '  Episcopal    Vallais '    and    '  Savoyard    Vallais.'      The 
bishops,  as  well  as  the  great  feudal   nobles  occupying  various 
districts  above  Sion,  had,  however,  to  fight  not  merely  against 
the    House   of  Savoy,    but  also,   from   the  fourteenth  century 
onwards,    with    the    free    communities    which    were    springing 
up  in  the  uppermost  reach  of  the  Rhone  valley.     These  are 
the   so-called    'Zehnen'    or    'dizains.'      This    name    obviously 
suggests    a  derivation  from    the    numeral    'ten,'  and  we   may 
safely  accept   the  opinion   of   the    chief  authority   on    Vallais 
history,    the   late  Abbe   Gremaud,    that    though   the    '  dizains ' 
were  but  seven  in  number — Sion,   'the  capital';   Sierre,   'the 
delightful ' ;  Leuk,   '  the  strong ' ;  Raron,  '  the  prudent ' ;  Visp, 
the   noble';    Brieg,   'the  rich';   and   Conches  or  Goms,    'the 
Catholic' — yet  as    that   number  and  the  limits   of  each  were 
only  fixed  in  the  fifteenth  century,  the  name  they  bear  is  a 
recollection  of  the  time,  before  1384,  when  two  other  districts, 
below  Sion  (Ardon-Chamoson   and  Martigny),  were   ceded  to 
Savoy,  while  Granges,  above  Sion,  by  1335  became  separated 
from  Sierre.     These  '  dizains '  having  in  the  fourteenth  century 
subdued  the  feudal  nobles  (the  two  chief  houses,  those  of  La 
Tour-Chatillon  or  Turn,  and   Raron,   were   finally  crushed  in 
1375  and  in    1417    respectively),   and   practically  secured  the 
powers   formerly   exercised   by   the    bishop,    were   soon   ready 
for  an  advance  (in  the  bishop's  name)  against  Savoy.     Hence 
it  was  that  in   1475-6   they  overran  and  occupied  the  Vallais 
from  the  Morge  to   St.   Maurice,  also   securing  in   1536  (con- 
firmed in   1569)  the  territory  (Monthey,  etc.)  on  the  left  bank 
of  the  Rhone  as  far  as  the  Lake  of  Geneva.     These  conquests 
of  1475-6   and   1536  formed   the   'Lower  Vallais,'  which  was 
ruled   harshly  by  the   bishop  and   the    dizains   of  the  Upper 
Vallais   till    1798.      Then   both   portions   were   united   as   the 


112     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Canton  of  Vallais  in  the  Helvetic  Republic.  But  in  1802 
Napoleon,  desiring  to  secure  the  Alpine  passes,  erected  this 
Canton  into  the  independent  '  Rhodanic  Republic,'  finally,  in 
1 810,  annexing  it,  under  the  name  of  the  'Department  of  the 
Simplon,'  to  the  French  Empire.  But  in  18 15  the  Vallais 
became  Swiss,  and  a  full  member  of  the  Swiss  Confederation, 
with  which  it  had  had  relations  of  alliance,  more  or  less  close, 
since  the  early  fifteenth  century. 

We  have  pointed  out  in  the  preceding  chapter  the  very 
remarkable  emigration  from  the  German-speaking  Upper  Vallais 
which  took  place  in  the  thirteenth  century,  and  which  resulted 
in  the  establishment  of  Vallaisan  colonies  in  the  Val  Formazza 
(upper  Tosa  valley)  as  well  as  in  the  valleys  at  the  S.  and  E. 
base  of  Monte  Rosa,  and  in  the  far  more  distant  regions  round 
the  sources  of  the  Hinter  Rhine,  in  the  Calfeisen  valley,  and 
even  at  Davos.  It  was  only  natural  that  similar  colonies  should 
try  to  make  their  way  over  the  range  which  shuts  in  the  Vallais 
on  the  N.,  that  is,  to  the  territory  of  Berne,  or,  strictly 
speaking,  that  which  was  later  to  become  Bernese. 

Of  the  two  great  feudal  families  of  the  Upper  Vallais,  that  of 
Raron  (near  Visp)  is  now  known  to  have  been  a  branch  of 
the  lords  of  Ringgenberg  (near  Interlaken),  who  ruled  over 
the  N.  shore  of  the  Lake  of  Brienz,  but,  as  yet,  it  has  not 
been  possible  to  trace  any  political  effects  of  this  connection. 
It  is  far  otherwise  in  the  case  of  the  second  house,  that  of 
La  Tour-Chatillon — Nieder  Gestelen — or  Turn  (their  ruined 
castle  rises  on  a  height  a  little  to  the  W.  of  that  whereon 
stood  formerly  that  of  the  Raron  family,  burnt  in  141 7).  The 
lord  John  of  that  house  married  (towards  the  end  of  the 
thirteenth  century  or  the  beginning  of  the  fourteenth  century) 
the  heiress  of  the  lords  of  Wadiswil,  who  brought  with  her 
as  her  dowry  the  lordship  of  Frutigen  (this  including  also 
Kandersteg,  Adelboden,  and  the  Kien  and  Suld  valleys), 
situated  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps.  As  the  Turn  family 
already  held  in  the  Vallais,  among  other  estates,  the  valley  of 
Lotschen  and  that  of  the  upper  Dala  (or  Leukerbad),  a  glance 
at  a  map  will  show  that  they  were  in  possession  of  both  slopes 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    113 

of  the  Gemmi  (7641  ft.)  and  Lotschen  (8842  ft.)  Passes  across 
the    range   N.    of    the   Vallais.      John's    father-in-law   died    in 
1302,  and  he  probably  then  entered  upon  his  wife's  heritage 
(he  was  already  a  married  man   in   1311).     Now  in   1306  we 
hear   of  certain    men    (nine   in    number)    named    'Loscherre' 
(probably  a  form  of  'Lotscher')  who,  together  with  a  Grindel- 
wald  man  and  his  son,  purchased  the  piece  of  land  at  Brienz, 
on  which  they  had  settled,  and  the  pasturages  above  the  village. 
It  is  not  stated  how  these  men  came  to  be  at  Brienz.     But  the 
whole  matter   is    cleared    up  by  a  document   dated    1346  by 
which  Peter  (John's  son)  sells  to  the  monastery  at  Interlaken 
all    his    serfs,    called    '  die  Lotscher,'   who    lived    at   Gimmel- 
wald,  Miirren,  Lauterbrunnen  and  elsewhere   in  the  parish  of 
Gsteig    (between    Interlaken    and    Lauterbrunnen,    the    latter 
village  having  been  in  that  parish  till  1506,  when  it  became  a 
separate  parish),  as  well  as  those  settled  near  Brienz.     In  1331, 
1349,   and    1409  we    hear  again   of    these    Lotschen    serfs   at 
Lauterbrunnen.     But  by  the   last-named  date   the  lordship  of 
Frutigen  had  passed  away  from  the  Tour  family,  the  last  male 
member  of  which,  after  its  downfall  in  1375-6  in  the  Vallais, 
sold  his  Lauterbrunnen  and  Brienz  serfs  to  the  monastery  of 
Interlaken  in   1395,  and  his  Frutigen  lordship,  in   1400,  to  the 
town  of  Berne.     Thus  ended  this  very  curious  episode  in  the 
history  of  one  of  the  great  feudal  lordships  on  the  N.  slope 
of   the  Alps   that   shelter  the  Vallais.      But   it   has   left   some 
permanent  traces  in  this  settlement  at  Lauterbrunnen,  where 
the   stream   is  still  called    Liitschine,    and   the  dialect   is  not 
unlike  that  of  the  Vallais.     It  is  even  possible  that  some  men 
from  this  colony  came  to  settle  in  the  neighbouring  valley  of 
Grind^lwald  (wherein  these  lines  are  written).     There  too  the 
stream  is  named  Liitschine,  while  we  know  from  other  sources 
that  the  Wadiswil  lords  had  lands  there,  which  may  very  well 
have  passed  with  their  heiress  to  John  of  La  Tour-Chatillon, 
as  the  last  mention  of  the  Wadiswil  family  in  connection  with 
either  the  Lauterbrunnen  or  the  Grindelwald  valleys  is  found 
in  1326. 

A  more  lasting  Vallaisan  possession  on  the  N.  slope  of  the 

H 


114     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Alps  was  the  plain  of  Spitalmatte,  with  the  inn  or  '  hospice '  of 
Schwarenbach,  which  was  decided  to  belong  to  Leukerbad  as 
against  Frutigen,  in  1318,  by  a  judgment  of  lord  John  of  Turn, 
who  was  settling  a  dispute  between  his  two  bailiffs — possibly  this 
bit  was  Vallaisan  as  far  back  as  1252.  At  the  present  day  the 
Oberaar  Alp  (or  pasture)  on  the  Bernese  side  of  the  Grimsel 
Pass  belongs  to  the  men  of  Torbel,  a  village  on  the  heights 
above  Stalden,  in  the  valley  leading  up  to  Zermatt.  These  seem 
to  be  the  only  two  bits  of  land  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps 
which  are  held  by  the  Vallais.  Berne,  however,  came  off  worse, 
for  it  never  secured  permanently  any  part  of  the  Vallais.  The 
last  raid  by  the  Bernese  was  in  141 9,  in  consequence  of  the 
attempt  made  by  one  of  their  burghers,  the  lord  of  Raron  (after 
his  expulsion  from  the  Vallais,  owing  to  his  sympathies  with 
Savoy  as  against  the  '  dizains '),  to  recover  his  estates  in 
the  Vallais.  But  this  invasion  failed,  largely  owing  to  the 
great  defeat  of  the  Bernese  at  the  village  of  Ulrichen  (one  of  the 
highest  in  the  Upper  Vallais,  and  close  to  the  point  where  the 
old  mule  path  over  the  Grimsel  Pass  reaches  the  level  of  the 
Rhone  valley),  which  was  chiefly  due  to  the  brave  sacrifice  of 
his  life  made  by  the  Vallaisan  leader,  Thomas  Riedi.  One 
incident  in  this  short  campaign  was  a  skirmish  on  the  snows 
which  cover  the  Lotschen  Pass  (8842  ft.),  which  is  described 
by  the  Bernese  chronicler,  Justinger,  with  many  picturesque 
touches ;  in  particular,  he  tells  us  how  the  brave  Bernese  drove 
the  Vallaisans  from  their  vantage  post  on  the  very  top  of  the 
pass,  but  had  themselves  to  bivouac  on  the  glacier,  where 
they  suffered  much  from  the  cold  and  rain  (though  it  was 
August),  though  they  had  the  supreme  satisfaction  next  day  of 
receiving  the  surrender  of  the  Vallaisans,  who  appear  to  have 
suffered  even  more  than  their  conquerors. 

But  save  at  times,  the  relations  between  Berne  and  the  Vallais 
were  friendly.  The  first  alliance  between  the  Bishop  of  Sion 
and  Berne  dates  back  to  1252  ;  the  connection  was  very  close  in 
the  early  fifteenth  century,  when  both  parties  desired  to  get 
hold  of  the  Val  d'Ossola;  and  in  1475  Berne  helped  the 
Vallaisans  to  wrest  the  Lower  Vallais  from  the  Duke  of  Savoy. 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    115 

On  the  other  hand,  the  Vallais  looked  also  towards  the  Forest 
Cantons,  with  which,  as  early  as  14 16-17,  it  made  a  treaty  of 
alliance. 

It  is  hard  to  realise  the  fact,  but  so  it  is,  that  it  was  not  till 
the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century  that  the  town  of  Berne  got  a 
footing  in  the  Alps.  When  it  entered  the  Confederation  in 
1353  it  was  simply  an  outpost  against  Savoy,  which  was  press- 
ing up  towards  it.  But  gradually,  though  steadily,  Berne  pushed 
back  the  Savoyards,  first  freeing  Fribourg  (1454),  and  then 
conquering  the  district  of  Aigle  (1475)  ^^^  the  bishopric  of 
Lausanne  and  the  barony  of  Vaud  (1536),  lands  which  she 
never  gave  up  till  1798,  though  in  1564  she  had  to  restore 
the  Chablais,  which,  too,  had  formed  part  of  the  conquests 
of  1536. 

More  interesting  to  us,  however,  is  to  trace  out  how  Berne 
secured  a  footing  in  the  Alpine  regions  to  the  S.E.  of  the 
town,  which  now  bear  the  well-known  name  of  the  '  Bernese 
Oberland.' 

The  first  step  in  this  direction  was  the  purchase  (1334)  of  the 
imperial  fief  of  Hasle  (Meiringen,  and  the  upper  reach  of  the 
Aar  valley)  from  the  lords  of  Weissenburg,  to  whom  the  Emperor 
had  mortgaged  it  in  1310-11,  but  as  the  mortgage  was  never 
redeemed  by  the  Empire,  Hasle  remained  Bernese.  Next  in 
point  of  date  was  the  purchase  of  TAuu  in  1384  from  the  last 
representative  of  the  cadet  or  Laufenburg  line  of  the  House  of 
Habsburg,  to  whom  it  had  come  as  part  of  the  inheritance  of 
the  Counts  of  Kyburg.  In  1386,  during  the  Sempach  war, 
Berne  (now  a  member  of  the  Swiss  Confederation)  seized  the 
town  of  Unterseen  (opposite  Interlaken),  which  had  been  founded 
in  1280  by  the  lords  of  Eschenbach,  but  sold  by  them  in  1306 
to  the  Habsburgs.  The  ambitious  town  of  Berne  thus  held  the 
whole  of  the  Aar  valley  above  it,  save  the  wide  domains  of  the 
great  house  of  Austin  Canons  at  Interlaken  (founded  about 
1 133).  The  Eschenbachs  had  been  its  '  protectors  '  for  nearly  a 
century,  when  in  1306  they  sold  their  Oberland  estates  to  the 
Habsburgs,  but  the  latter,  though  succeeding  them  in  that  office 
by  1318,  were  soon  forced  to  give  way  before  the  claims  of  Berne. 


ii6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

It  was  not  till  1528,  however,  that  the  wealthy  monastery  of 
Interlaketi  was  secularised.  Then  all  its  domains  passed  into  the 
hands  of  Berne,  which  thus  secured  the  rest  of  the  upper  Aar 
valley,  namely  Interlaken,  Brienz,  Grindelwald,  Lauterbrunnen, 
and  the  villages  on  the  lakes  of  Brienz  and  Thun.  Long  before 
that  date  Berne  had  turned  its  attention  to  another  of  the  main 
Oberland  valleys,  that  of  the  Shnine  (which  is  always,  till  about 
1700,  and  even  now  by  the  natives,  named  the  '  Siebenthal,'  not 
because  of  the  seven  glens  which  are  said  to  make  it  up,  but 
because  of  the  seven  springs  which  give  rise  to  the  Simme).  In 
1386  Berne  occupied  by  force  of  arms  its  upper  reach  (Zwei- 
simmen  and  Lenk),  which  had  been  bought  in  1377  from  its 
impecunious  owners,  in  1391  it  purchased  from  its  owner  the 
lordship  of  Simmenegg  (Boltigen  and  the  middle  reach  of  the 
valley),  and  by  purchase  also  acquired  in  two  bits  (1439  and 
1449)  the  lowest  reach  (Weissenburg,  Wimmis,  Erlenbach) 
of  the  same  valley.  Meanwhile  the  Bernese  had  not  lost 
sight  of  the  third  of  the  great  Oberland  valleys,  that  of  the 
Kander.  This  wide-branching  valley,  forming  the  lordship  of 
Friitigen  (and  thus  including  Frutigen,  Adelboden,  Kandersteg, 
and  the  Kien  valley,  with  the  command  of  the  Gemmi  and  the 
Lotschen  Passes),  was  purchased  in  1400  from  the  last  of  the 
lords  of  La  Tour-Chatillon  (of  whom  we  spoke  above),  who  had 
obtained  it  by  inheritance  early  in  the  fourteenth  century,  but 
after  his  expulsion  from  the  Vallais  (1375)  was  getting  rid  of  his 
Oberland  possessions  as  well:  in  1395  he  had  given  to  the 
monastery  of  Interlaken  the  advowson  of  Frutigen  (till  the  parish 
of  Adelboden  was  formed  in  1433  the  whole  of  the  Kander 
valley  was  in  the  parish  of  Frutigen),  and  in  the  same  year  had 
sold  to  the  monastery  all  his  serfs,  commonly  called  'die 
Lotscher,'  whether  settled  in  the  Lauterbrunnen  valley  or  at 
Brienz.  We  have  mentioned  above  the  conquest  (1475)  of  the 
district  of  Aigle  and  (1536)  of  the  barony  of  Vaud  by  Berne.  In 
1555  it  completed  its  acquisitions  near  the  Oberland  by  dividing 
with  Fribourg  the  domains  of  the  last  count  of  the  Gruyere, 
whose  prodigality  had  plunged  him  hopelessly  into  debt.  Berne 
then  obtained  the  whole  of  the  Saane  or  Sarine  valley,  above 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    117 

the  Tine  gorge  (between  Montbovon  and  Rossiniere),  but  in 
1798  it  lost  to  the  Canton  du  Leman  of  the  Helvetic  Republic 
(which  in  1803  parted  with  it  to  the  newly  formed  Canton  of 
Vaud)  the  French-speaking  portion  of  this  valley,  that  is,  the 
'  Pays  d'En  Haut '  (Rossiniere,  Chateau  d'Oex,  and  Rougemont) : 
it  still  holds,  however,  the  upper  reach  of  the  valley  (Saanen  or 
Gessenay),  which  is  very  easily  gained,  over  the  Saanenmoser 
Pass  (4209  ft,),  from  the  upper  valley  of  the  Simme,  so  that 
these  two  districts  were  conveniently  near  together. 

Such  is  the  story  of  the  manner  in  which  Berne  became  the 
capital  of  a  wide  mountain  region. 


{b)  Uri. — In  the  whole  of  Switzerland  there  is  no  Canton  (unless 
it  be  the  Vallais)  which  is  more  securely  fenced  in  by  high  moun- 
tains on  all  sides  but  one,  than  that  of  Uri,  or  the  upper  valley  of 
the  Reuss.  But  possibly  because  it  was  the  first  district  within  the 
limits  of  the  future  Swiss  Confederation  to  obtain  practical 
independence  by  being  made  immediately  dependent  on  the 
Empire  (853),  possibly  because  the  wild  and  barren  nature  of 
the  region  did  not  satisfy  the  yearnings  of  its  pastoral  inhabitants, 
we  find  that  very  early  it  made  successful  efforts  to  annex  certain 
territories  which  properly  lay  in  the  lands  held  by  their  neigh- 
bours. We  do  not  know  the  precise  date  at  which  the  magni- 
ficent pastures  of  the  Urnerboden  (on  the  Glarus  side  of  the 
Klausen  Pass  (6404  ft.)  to  the  E.  of  Altdorf)  were  occupied  by 
the  men  of  Uri.  But  it  is  certain  that,  before  the  foundation  of 
the  Benedictine  abbey  of  Engelberg  (about  11 20)  the  pastures  of 
the  Blacken  Alp,  on  the  Engelberg  side  of  the  Surenen  Pass 
(7563  ft.),  were  in  the  hands  of  the  Uri  men,  who,  in  the 
thirteenth  century,  pushed  their  limits  a  good  way  farther  down 
the  valley.  Hence  the  visitor  to  Engelberg  (now  in  Obwalden) 
is  considerably  surprised  at  discovering  that  the  frontier  of  Uri 
begins  about  one  hour's  walk  up  the  valley.  He  would  be  even 
more  surprised  to  learn  (but  that  he  generally  does  not)  that  the 
frontier  of  Nidwalden  starts  a  little  below  Grafenort,  though  one 
might  at  first  have  imagined  that  the  whole  valley  of  the  Engel- 


ii8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

berger  Aa  must  belong  to  the  Nidwalden  division  of  the  Canton 
of  Unterwalden,  since  Stans,  its  capital,  is  near  the  spot  where  it 
flows  into  the  Lake  of  Lucerne.  This  frontier  is,  however,  due 
to  causes  quite  different  from  those  which  obtained  in  the  upper 
reach  of  the  Aa  valley.  In  1798  the  Nidwalden  men  valiantly 
resisted  the  French  army,  so  that  when  the  Helvetic  Republic 
was  set  up,  the  territory  of  the  abbats  of  Engelberg  (hitherto 
independent)  was  annexed  to  Obwalden  as  a  punishment  for  the 
Nidwaldners.  The  latter  got  the  Engelberg  region  in  1803,  but 
lost  it  finally  in  181 6,  for  in  18 15  they  had  strongly  resisted  the 
introduction  of  the  new  regime  of  1815. 

More  important  was  the  incorporation  of  the  Ursern  valley 
with  Uri.  This  glen,  well  known  to  summer  travellers  who  visit 
Andermatt  and  one  of  the  three  passes  (the  Furka,  the  St.  Gott- 
hard,  and  the  Oberalp)  which  give  access  to  it,  depended  from 
very  early  times  on  the  Benedictine  abbey  of  Disentis  (founded 
about  614  by  the  Irish  monk,  Sigisbert,  a  disciple  of  St.  Colum- 
ban),  across  the  Oberalp  Pass  and  at  the  head  of  the  Vorder 
Rhine  valley.  It  was  later  an  imperial  fief,  which  till  1283  was 
in  the  hands  of  the  Counts  of  Rapperswil,  and  from  1 299  to  1389 
(though  before  that  date  their  rights  had  practically  lapsed)  in 
those  of  the  Habsburgers.  The  abbey  thenceforward  exercised 
all  jurisdiction  therein,  as  it  had  long  been  the  owner  of  lands, 
etc.,  in  the  valley.  But  the  domination  of  Disentis  in  Ursern 
was  naturally  disagreeable  to  the  men  of  Uri,  for  they  were  thus 
shut  out  from  the  route  to  the  Vallais  over  the  Furka,  and  from 
the  much-coveted  Val  Leventina,  in  the  Milanese,  over  the  St. 
Gotthard.  Hence  in  141  o  Uri  made  a  permanent  alliance  with 
Ursern  (the  last  traces  of  this  more  or  less  dependent  condition 
did  not  disappear  till  the  adoption  of  the  new  cantonal  constitu- 
tion of  1888),  while  in  1649  the  Ursern  men  bought  up  the 
remaining  manorial  rights  of  the  abbey.  Thus  Uri  secured  an 
open  gate  both  towards  the  Milanese  and  towards  the  Vallais. 
One  natural  consequence  of  this  closer  connection  between  Uri 
and  Ursern  was  that  Ursern  gradually  gave  up  the  Romonsch 
language  which  had  long  (though  Teutonic  traces  appear  as  early 
as  1309)  been  spoken  by  its  inhabitants,  and  adopted  the  High 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    119 

German  dialect  spoken  in  Uri.  But  the  local  names  in  Ursern 
(originally  called  Orsera)  still  retain  traces  of  their  Romonsch 
descent,  though  some  persons,  at  first  sight,  might  attribute  them 
to  the  Italian  influence  flowing  across  the  St.  Gotthard. 


(c)  The  Grisons. — It  is  a  remarkable  fact  that  the  southern- 
most or  mountainous  portion  of  the  old  Roman  province 
of  Rsetia  preserved  for  a  very  long  series  of  years  the  traces 
of  Roman  civilisation.  It  included  (roughly  speaking)  the 
modern  area  now  comprised  in  the  Canton  of  the  Grisons 
and  in  the  Vorarlberg  (the  Tyrol  belonged  to  the  Bavarians), 
and  its  temporal  rulers  (bearing  the  Roman  title  'Prseses'), 
so  late  as  the  seventh  and  eighth  centuries  a.d.,  were 
the  Bishops  of  Coire,  who  are  first  mentioned  about  452. 
This  region  seems  also  to  have  retained  to  an  extraordinary 
degree  its  connection  with  Italy.  But  early  in  the  ninth 
century  it  was  definitively  cut  off  from  Italy  and  made  a  part 
of  Germany.  About  806  Charles  the  Great  erected  Rsetia  into 
a  duchy,  which  before  847  was  transferred  from  the  ecclesi- 
astical province  of  Milan  to  that  of  Mayence  (Mainz).  In 
916  this  duchy  was  united  with  that  of  Alamannia,  but,  as 
before,  was  practically  divided  into  an  upper  portion  and  a 
lower,  ruled  by  great  feudal  nobles,  whose  power  grew  as  that 
of  the  central  authority  diminished.  But  as  early  as  831  the 
Bishop  of  Coire  secured  from  the  Emperor  Louis  the  Pious 
a  charter  of  exemption  from  the  jurisdiction  (save  in  criminal 
matters)  of  these  counts,  similar  privileges  being  then  granted 
also  to  the  convent  of  Pfafers,  and  sometime  after  (1048)  to 
that  of  Disentis.  These  three  great  ecclesiastical  exempt 
jurisdictions  considerably  stemmed  the  advance  of  the  feudal 
nobles,  especially  when  in  the  tenth  century  the  Bishop  of 
Coire  obtained  many  fresh  privileges  and  new  domains  (including 
the  Val  Bregaglia  in  960)  from  the  Emperor  Otto  i.  and  his 
successors.  As  time  went  on,  the  Bishop  of  Coire,  with  his  vast 
power  and  enormous  domains  (which  were,  however,  smaller  than 
the  region  over  which  his  purely  spiritual  jurisdiction  extended), 


120     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

became  a  standing  danger  to  his  '  men  '  and  to  the  neighbouring 
nobles.     This  danger  was  increased  by  the  Austrian  leanings 
of  Bishop  Hartmann  (1388-1416)  and  his  predecessors,  for  the 
House   of  Habsburg   in    1363   acquired   the   county  of  Tyrol, 
and  in  1375  first  set  foot  in   the  Vorarlberg.     Hence  in  1367 
the  '  League  of  God's  House '  was  founded   by  the  bishop's 
subjects  (the  city  of  Coire,   the  Domleschg  or  Thusis  region, 
the  Oberhalbstein,  towards  the  Julier  Pass,  the  whole  Engadine, 
and  the  Val  Bregaglia),  the  bishop  becoming  its  head  in   1392. 
This   was   followed   in     1395    by   the    'Upper    League,'   often 
wrongly  called  the  'Grey  League,'  as  it  took  its  name  not  from 
the  grey  coats  of  the  leaguers,  but  from  the  number  of  feudal 
counts    or    'Grafen'   (graven)    who    entered   it:    this    League 
comprised   the   exempt  jurisdiction  of  the  abbey  of  Disentis, 
and  the  nobles  of  the  Vorder  Rhine  valley,  and  by  1424  had 
greatly  increased  its  limits.     In   1436  the  last  Count  of  Toggen- 
burg  died,  and  at  once  many  of  his  subjects  formed  the  '  League 
of  the  Ten  Jurisdictions '  (Davos,  the  Prattigau  or  Landquart 
valley,  and  the  Schanfigg  valley),  though  this  League  was  long 
exposed  to  strong   Austrian  pressure.     In    the   course   of  the 
fifteenth  century  these  Three  Leagues  drew  nearer  to  each  other 
in   order  to  face   a   common  danger   (affording   a   remarkable 
parallel  to  the  history  of  the  rise  of  the  Swiss  Confederation 
itself).     In  1497  the  '  Upper  League,' and  next  year  the  '  God's 
House  League,'  became  '  allies'  of  the  seven  most  easterly  of  the 
ten   members   of  the   Swiss    Confederation,   though  the    '  Ten 
Jurisdictions '  were  then   being  rapidly  seized   by  Austria,  so 
that   it   could    not   join    in    these   alliances.      Of  course   this 
accession  of  strength  greatly  improved  the  position  of  the  two 
Leagues,  but  it  also  brought  to  a  head  the  troubles  which  had  long 
been  simmering  between  them  and  the  House  of  Austria.    During 
many  years  the  Counts  of  the  Tyrol  had  been  encroaching  on 
the  rights  of  the  Bishop  of  Coire  (based  on  donations  in  the 
ninth  and  tenth  centuries  by  the  Emperors)  in  three  districts 
— the  Lower  Engadine,  the  Vintschgau  or  upper  valley  of  the 
Adige,    and    the    Miinster    valley,    a    tributary    glen    of    the 
Vintschgau.     By   1282  the  Lower  Engadine  was  recognised  by 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    121 

the  bishop  as  being  in  Tyrol,  and  to  a  certain  extent  the 
Vintschgau  also.  Of  course,  when  in  1363  the  Habsburgers 
succeeded  to  the  Tyrol,  they  were  able  to  press  even  harder 
on  the  infant  Leagues.  Finally,  the  Habsburgers,  in  the  person 
of  the  Emperor  Maximilian  (who  had  received  Tyrol  in  1490 
from  the  last  representative  of  the  cadet  branch  of  his  house), 
attacked  the  Miinster  valley  in  May  1499,  desiring  to  force  the 
Rsetian  Leagues  and  also  the  Swiss  Confederation  to  recognise 
the  jurisdiction  of  the  newly  created  Imperial  Chamber  as  the 
Supreme  Imperial  Tribunal.  But  this  enterprise  was  brought 
to  nought  by  the  great  Swiss  and  Rfetian  victory  in  the  Calven 
gorge  (in  the  lower  bit  of  the  Miinster  valley),  and  by  the  Peace 
of  Bale  (Sept.  1499)  the  Emperor  had  to  recognise  that  the  Swiss 
and  Rsetian  Leagues  were  practically  independent  of  the  Empire, 
and  not  subject  to  the  Imperial  Chamber.  But  though  this 
treaty  settled  the  political  matters  at  issue,  the  rights  of  the 
Habsburgers  as  lords  of  the  manor  in  the  contested  districts 
gave  rise  to  many  and  irritating  quarrels.  Hence,  when  by 
the  Treaty  of  Westphalia  (1648)  the  legal  independence  of  the 
Swiss  and  Raetian  Leagues  was  formally  acknowledged  by  the 
Emperor,  it  seemed  a  favourable  opportunity  for  settling  the 
other  claims  as  well.  Thus  the  Austrian  rights  in  ''  ,  "Ten 
Jurisdictions'  were  bought  up  in  1649-1652,  and  those  in 
the  Lower  Engadine  in  1652,  but  on  the  other  land,  the 
Bishop  of  Coire  formally  renounced  in  1665  his  claims  in  the 
Vintschgau  (which  had  been  practically  lost  since  1609).  All 
rights  of  the  Rstian  Leagues  in  the  Miinster  valley  were 
practically  lost  after  1526  (when  the  temporal  jurisdiction  of 
the  Bishop  of  Coire  in  the  Raetian  Leagues  was  abolished), 
though  after  protracted  negotiations  they  succeeded  formally  in 
1762  (practically  in  1748)  in  purchasing  the  upper  portion  (above 
Taufers)  from  Austria,  to  which  it  had  been  sold  (with  Taufers) 
in  1734  by  the  Bishop  of  Coire  (a  Tyrolese  by  birth).  In 
this  way  the  Swiss  regained  the  command  of  the  Umbrail  Pass. 

Thus  while  the  Raetian  Leagues,  in  the  case  of  these  con- 
tested territories,  obtained  the  Prattigau,  Davos,  the  Lower 
Engadine,  and  a  part  of  the  Miinster  valley,  they  had  to  give  up 


122     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  Vintschgau,  which,  after  all,  is  within  the  natural  limits  of 
the  Tyrol,  as  the  Adige  valley  is  physically  quite  distinct  from 
that  of  the  upper  Inn  or  the  Engadine. 

In  1799-1801  the  Three  Leagues  of  Rsetia  (which,  in  1797, 
as  mentioned  above,  had  lost  their  Italian  bailiwicks)  became 
the  Canton  of  Rsetia  in  the  Helvetic  Republic,  while  in  1803, 
under  the  name  of  the  Canton  of  the  Grisons  or  Graubiinden, 
they  were  admitted  full  members  of  the  reconstituted  Swiss 
Confederation. 

But  it  was  only  in  the  early  years  of  the  nineteenth  century 
that  two  Austrian  islands  or  'enclaves'  in  Rsetia  became  Swiss 
— those  of  Tarasp  and  Rhazuns. 

Tarasp,  in  the  Lower  Engadine,  had  a  castle  which  dominates 
Schuls  in  the  main  valley  of  the  Inn,  and  so  is  of  strategical 
importance.  It  passed  from  its  local  lords  into  the  possession 
of  the  Bishops  of  Coire  in  the  twelfth  century,  but  they  gave 
it  at  once  to  a  family  which  in  1239  sold  it  to  the  Count  of 
Tyrol  (that  county  was  not  yet  in  the  hands  of  the  Habsburgers). 
He  bestowed  it  as  a  fief  on  the  powerful  Matsch  family,  from 
which  Sigismund  of  Austria  bought  it  in  1464.  After  the 
Lower  Engadine  had  been  sold  to  the  R^etian  Leagues  in 
1652,  the  Habsburgers  alienated  (1687)  the  lordship  of  Tarasp 
to  the  Dietrichstein  family,  which  held  it  till  1801.  Then  it 
was  ceded  by  Austria  at  the  Peace  of  Luneville  to  France, 
which  in  1803  gave  it  to  the  Swiss  Confederation,  from 
which  it  passed,  in  1809,  to  the  Canton  of  the  Grisons.  Thus 
after  passing  through  many  hands  Tarasp  became  at  last  Swiss, 
but  it  is  no  doubt  owing  to  the  fact  that  it  was  for  so  long  an 
outpost  of  Tyrol  that  the  parish  is  now  the  only  one  in  the 
Lower  Engadine  that  is  mainly  inhabited  by  Romanists. 

Rhdzu7is  had  an  even  more  singular  history.  The  castle 
stands  near  the  junction  of  the  Hinter  and  of  the  Vorder 
Rhine,  and  a  little  S.W,  of  Coire,  so  that  it  is  very  important 
from  the  military  point  of  view.  We  hear  of  it  already  in  960, 
though  its  lords  are  first  mentioned  in  11 39.  In  1251  the 
family  appears  under  the  name  of  Brun,  and  made  it  the  centre 
of  its  very  extensive  possessions,  acquired  by  purchase  in  the 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    123 

neighbourhood.     The  direct   male  Une  of  the  family  became 
extinct  in  1458,  when  Rhazuns  passed  to  the  Count  of  Zollern, 
the  nephew  of  the  last  lord.     The  new  owners,  however,  mort- 
gaged  it  in    1473    (or   1490)   to  the  lord  of  Marmels  (around 
Molins,  on  the  way  to  the  Julier  Pass),  who  exchanged  it  in 
1497  with  Maximilian  of  Austria  for  another  lordship  in  Swabia, 
though  the  mortgage  was  not  bought  up  by  the  Habsburgers 
till  1549.     But  hardly  had  they  finally  secured  Rhazuns  when 
in  1558  they  mortgaged  the  lordship  in  their  turn  to  the  great 
Engadine  family  of  Planta,  and  in  1586  sold  it  outright  to  that 
family,  reserving  the  option  of  repurchasing  it  at  some  future 
date.     This  option  was  exercised  by  the  Emperor  Leopold  i.  in 
1695,  when  the  lordship  became  definitively  Austrian,  and  so  a 
great  eyesore  to  the  Rsetian  Leagues.    But  by  the  disastrous  Peace 
of  Presburg  (1805)  Napoleon  compelled  Austria  to  cede  Rhazuns 
to  his  ally  Bavaria,  though  in   1809  Bavaria  was  forced  to  hand 
it  over  to  France.    Finally,  the  Congress  of  Vienna  (1815)  made 
over  our  lordship  to  the  restored  Canton  of  the  Orisons,  which 
still  holds  it.     It  was  only  actually  handed  over  in  18 19,  when 
the  fear  of  Austria  and  of  the  Habsburgers  passed  away  for  ever. 
Thus   by   the   irony    of  fate  these  two  Austrian   'enclaves' 
passed  through  the  hands  of  France  before  they  became  Swiss. 
Rhazuns,  too,  is  singular  in  this  respect,  that  it  never  belonged 
to  the  Rsetian   Leagues  at  all,  though  situated  nearly  on  the 
boundary  between   the   'Upper   League'  and  the  'League  of 
God's  House.' 


3.   THE  EASTERN  ALPS 

(From  the  Reschen  Scheideck  to  the 
Radstadter  Tauern) 

(i)  The  political  history  of  this  region  of  the  Alps  is  all  but 
entirely  made  up  of  the  gradual  absorption  by  the  powerful  family 
of  the  Habsburgers  of  many  smaller  states  and  principalities, 
while  but  little  attention  need  be  paid  to  the  varying  fortunes 


124     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  the  House  of  Bavaria,  whose  domains  lay  N.W.  of  those  of 
the  Habsburgers.  To  us  the  interesting  point  of  this  history 
is  that  the  Habsburgers  secured  both  slopes  of  all  the  great 
mountain  passes  in  the  Eastern  Alps,  save  the  W.  slope  of  the 
Tonale  and  the  Stelvio,  which  only  became  Italian  in  1859 
(Austria  had  held  them  from  18 14  onwards),  and  the  S.  slope 
of  the  Plocken  or  Monte  Croce  Pass  (held  from  1 797-1805  and 
1814-1866),  lost  in  1866  to  Italy. 

In  tracing  out  the  rise  and  growth  of  the  House  of  Habsburg 
we  have  to  distinguish  between  at  least  three  phases,  which 
may  be  roughly  ticketed  as  the  'Swiss  Phase,'  the  'Austrian 
Phase,'  and  the  'Venetian  Phase,'  these  terms  simply  serving 
to  bring  out  the  characteristic  feature  of  each  period  in  the 
story  (so  far  as  regards  the  Alps)  of  this,  the  greatest  of  still 
reigning  Continental  royal  dynasties. 

A.— The  'Swiss  Phase' 

Of  course  the  Habsburgers  never  ruled  (though  they  remained 
landowners)  in  any  portion  of  the  Swiss  Confederation,  after  it 
had  become  Swiss.  The  Habsburgers  'created'  the  League 
because  it  came  into  being  to  resist  them,  but,  after  any  par- 
ticular district  had  become  a  member  of  the  Confederation, 
the  Habsburgers  retained  no  political  rights  over  it,  though 
they  might  continue  to  be  lords  of  the  manor  and  landowners 
therein.  It  is  desirable  to  grasp  this  state  of  things  very  clearly, 
for  there  was  a  time  when  the  Habsburgers  ruled  in  certain 
regions,  now  included  within  the  boundaries  of  Switzerland, 
but  that  time  was  before  they  had  entered  on  the  Austrian  (or 
more  strictly  the  Tyrolese)  phase  of  their  career. 

The  Habsburgers  began  in  a  small  way,  first  in  Upper  Alsace 
or  the  Sundgau  (on  the  left  bank  of  the  Rhine),  and  gradually 
extended  their  power  to  the  Black  Forest.  About  1020  one  of 
the  members  of  the  family,  Werner,  Bishop  of  Strassburg,  built 
the  castle  of  Habsburg,  on  a  commanding  height  above  the 
lower  valley  of  the  Aar,  and  not  very  far  from  the  point  at 
which  that  mightiest   of  Swiss  rivers    is    swollen  first  by  the 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    125 

Reuss  and  soon  after  by  the  Limmat  or  Linth.     This  castle- 
building  shows  that  the  family  must  have  then  struck  root  in 
the  Aargau.     In  1 1 24  its  head  appears  to  be  (as  he  certainly 
is  in  1 1 35)  the  ruler  (landgrave)  of  Upper  Alsace,  though  he 
then  takes  his  title  of  count  (which  occurs  first  in   1114)  not 
from  the  Sundgau,  but  from  his  Argovian  castle  of  Habsburg. 
In  1 1 73,  on  the  extinction  of  the  Counts  of  Lenzburg  (whose 
castle  rises  a  little  to  the  S.  of  that  of  Habsburg),  our  family 
succeeded  them  in  the  countship  of  the  Ziirichgau.     But  it  was 
not  till  1264  that  the  inheritance  of  the   Lenzburgs  in  lands, 
etc.,  came  (by  a  lucky  marriage,   the  first  recorded  of  many 
such)  to  the  Habsburgers,  for  it  had  previously  to  pass  through 
the  hands  of  the  Counts  of  Kyburg  (the  castle  of  this  name  is 
S.  of  Winterthur).     This  huge  accession  of  wealth  raised  the 
Habsburgers  to  the  first  rank  among  the  various  feudal  lord- 
lings  who  were  then  struggling  for  supremacy  in  what  now  form 
the  northern  and  central  portions  of  Switzerland.    This  position, 
and  the  soldier-like  qualities  of  the  then  head  of  the  house, 
Rudolf,  helped,  with  other  causes,  to  bring  about  his  election  as 
Emperor  in  1273,  while  in  1282  the  Habsburgers  for  the  first 
time  came  into  possession  of  Austria.     No  doubt  such  further 
accessions  of  power  and  dignity  induced  Rudolf  to  attempt  to 
increase   his    territories    in    what    may   be    called    his    native 
land — what  was  later  to  be  central  Switzerland.     In  a  preceding 
section  we  have  noted  how  his  purchase  of  Lucerne  (April  16, 
1 291)  was  followed  by  his  death  (July  15)  and  the  formation  of 
the  first  Everlasting  League  (August  i).     It  was  high  time  indeed 
that  some  stop  should  be  put  to  the  rapid  and  ever-advancing 
progress  of  the  Habsburgers.     A  glance  at  an  historical  atlas  will 
show  that  about  131 5  the  Habsburgers  ruled  over  a  huge  band  of 
land  in  Central  Switzerland,  which  extended  from  the  W.  shore 
of  the    Lake   of  Constance,  in  a   S.W.   direction,   leaving  the 
imperial  city  Zurich  on  the  E.,  and  that  of  Berne  on  the  W.,  but 
taking  in    Lucerne,    as   well   as   the    Entlebuch   to   its   S. ;    it 
included,  besides,  Thun  and  the  upper  valley  of  the  Aar  (save 
Hasle),    that   is,  the   chief  valleys    of  the    Bernese   Oberland, 
which  really  belonged  to  the  house  of  Austin  Canons  of  Inter- 


126     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

laken,  of  which  the  Habsburgers  became  'protectors'  in  13 18 
for  a  few  years,  when  Berne  succeeded  them.  It  is  in  one 
of  these  valleys,  that  of  Grindelwald,  that  these  lines  are  being 
written  on  a  bit  of  land,  named  Diirrenberg,  which  belonged  to 
the  Habsburgers  as  late  as  1331,  when  they  parted  with  it  to  the 
Canons,  But  before  that  date  the  Habsburger  power  in  Central 
Switzerland  had  begun  to  wane.  The  battle  of  Morgarten  (13 15) 
secured  the  Three  Lands  of  Uri,  Schwyz,  and  Unterwalden  from 
any  further  political  dangers  at  the  hands  of  the  Habsburgers, 
while  in  1332  Lucerne,  on  its  entrance  into  the  League  (though 
the  Entlebuch  was  only  bought  in  1405  by  Lucerne  from  the 
Habsburgers),  was  lost  to  the  family.  In  1384  Thun  and  Burg- 
dorf  were  purchased  by  Berne  from  the  cadet  line  of  the  House 
of  Habsburg,  and  in  1386  the  victory  of  Sempach  struck  a  further 
blow  at  Habsburg  power,  while  in  1388  that  of  Nafels  secured 
Glarus  to  the  Confederation,  as  well  as  Zug  (both  had  entered 
it  in  1352).  The  Aargau  (including  the  ancestral  castle)  was 
lost  in  14 1 5  to  the  Confederation  as  a  whole  or  to  Berne 
alone,  in  1452  the  county  of  Kyburg  was  seized  by  Ziirich,  in 
1458  that  of  Rapperswil  successfully  sought  the  protection 
(definitively  given  in  1464)  of  four  members  of  the  Confedera- 
tion, in  1460  the  rich  plains  of  the  Thurgau  were  wrested  by  the 
Confederation  from  the  once  powerful  family,  and  finally  in 
1467  the  town  of  Winterthur  was  sold  to  Zurich.  Of  their 
ancient  possessions  in  what  is  now  Switzerland  the  Habsburgs 
retained  the  Frick  valley  (S.  of  Laufenburg,  on  the  Rhine)  till 
1801,  when  it  was  given  to  France,  which  ceded  it  in  1802  to 
Switzerland.  We  have  noted  above  the  fortunes  of  the  two 
islands  (acquired  by  the  Habsburgers  in  1464  and  1497  respec- 
tively) of  Tarasp  and  Rhazuns  in  the  Orisons,  as  well  as  the 
later  sales  of  the  Prattigau  (1649- 165  2)  and  the  Lower  Engadine 
(1652),  though  these  properly  belonged  to  the  'Austrian'  phase 
of  the  Habsburgers. 

Thus  by  1500  the  Habsburgers  had  practically  passed  out 
of  and  beyond  their  '  Swiss '  phase,  their  course  having  since 
1273  been  set  eastwards  from  their  old  home,  a  curious  parallel 
to  the  story  of  the  House  of  Savoy.     But,  as  we   shall  see 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    127 

presently,  the  acquisition  of  the  Tyrol  (1363)  and  of  the 
Vorarlberg  (1375-1394)  seems  to  indicate  an  advance  back 
towards  the  west  (that  is,  towards  the  Swiss  Confederation), 
though  this  advance  is  but  faintly  outlined,  and  was  checked 
for  good  in  1499  by  the  battle  of  the  Calven  gorge. 

B. — The  'Austrian  Phase' 

In  order  to  explain  how  the  Habsburgers  got  '  Austria '  it  is 
necessary  to  consider,  as  briefly  as  possible,  the  pre-Habsburger 
history  of  the  Alpine  lands  which  are  roughly  included  under 
the  term  of  '  Austria.' 

In  788  Charles  the  Great  incorporated  the  territory  of  the 
Baioarii  into  his  Empire.  It  later  formed  part  of  the  East 
Prankish  kingdom^  but  early  in  the  tenth  century  we  find  that 
it  was  governed  by  a  set  of  native  and  most  unruly  dukes,  who 
were  practically  sovereign,  and  at  best  nominally  subject  to 
the  German  kings.  Even  Otto  i.,  powerful  as  he  was,  did  not 
venture  to  do  more  than  hand  over  (948)  the  duchy  to  his  own 
brother,  whom  he  had  married  to  a  daughter  of  the  native  duke. 
But  troubles  still  prevailed  in  the  duchy,  first  between  the  new 
dynasty  and  the  old  one,  then  between  the  new  dynasty  (which 
became  more  Irish  than  the  Irish)  and  the  German  kings. 
Finally,  Otto  11.,  in  and  about  976,  introduced  great  changes  as 
to  the  Bavarian  duchy  and  its  holders,  for  it  had  become  very 
unwieldy,  as  it  extended  from  the  Lech  to  the  Leitha,  E.  of 
Vienna,  thus  including  practically  the  whole  of  the  Eastern 
Alps.  The  duchy  itself  was  given  to  Otto's  nephew  and  friend. 
Otto,  Duke  of  Swabia.  But  this  new  duchy  had  been  shorn 
of  its  fair  proportions  by  the  creation  of  a  set  of  '  marks '  or 
'  marchlands  '  (border-lands)  on  the  N.,  the  E.,  and  the  S. 
We  need  not  trouble  ourselves  here  with  the  North  Mark,  which 
has  nothing  to  do  with  the  Alps,  and  was  an  outpost  against  the 
Bohemians.  More  important  to  us  is  the  erection  of  Carinthia, 
or  the  South  Mark,  into  a  separate  duchy,  to  which  was  annexed 
the  Mark  of  Verona,  that  had  belonged  to  the  great  Bavarian 
duchy  since  952,  when  it  had  been  taken  from  the  kingdom  of 


128     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Italy,  after  the  defeat  of  King  Berengar  ii.  Further,  the  lands 
to  the  E.  of  the  old  Bavarian  duchy,  which  had  been  won  from 
the  Magyars  in  955  by  the  battle  on  the  Lech,  were  separated 
from  the  Bavarian  duchy,  and  made  into  the  East  Mark — the 
future  '  Austria'  in  the  strict  sense.  These  two  new  '  Marks  '  or 
outposts  against  the  Magyars  on  the  E.  were  put  (976)  by  Otto 
into  safe  hands,  Carinthia  and  Verona  going  to  Henry,  the  son 
of  a  former  Bavarian  duke,  and  husband  of  Willetrud,  Otto  11. 's 
first  cousin,  while  the  East  Mark  was  committed  to  the  charge 
of  Leopold  of  Babenberg,  brother  of  the  Berchtold  who  ruled 
in  the  North  Mark  (the  two  brothers  being  special  favourites 
of  Otto  II.).  The  diminished  duchy  of  Bavaria  thus  stretched, 
from  976  onwards,  only  from  the  Lech  to  the  sources  of  the 
Enns  and  of  the  Mur ;  its  mountainous  districts  (which  alone 
concern  us  here)  thus  included  the  whole  of  the  future  Tyrol 
and  Salzburg,  as  well  as  the  E.  bit  of  the  Bavarian  Highlands. 

Now,  in  course  of  time,  all  these  districts  (save  the  North 
Mark  and  the  Bavarian  Highlands)  came  into  the  hands  of  the 
Habsburgers.  In  order  to  make  a  rather  complicated  series  of 
events  as  clear  as  possible  to  my  readers,  it  will  be  most  con- 
venient to  consider  them  briefly  under  three  heads — first,  the 
East  Mark,  as  that  gave  the  name  of  House  of  Austria  to  the 
Habsburgers ;  then  the  South  Mark,  or  Carinthia  (with  its 
satellites  of  Carniola  and  Styria) ;  and  finally  the  Tyrolese,  or 
S.  portion  of  the  Bavarian  duchy  (as  constituted  in  976),  which 
will  lead  us  on  naturally  to  the  story  of  the  Bavarian  Highlands, 
or  the  N.  half  of  that  reconstituted  duchy. 


{a)  The  East  Mark,  or  Austria  (Oesterreich). — Leopold  of 
Babenberg  had  already,  in  974,  received  from  Otto  11.  the 
government  of  the  East  Mark,  but  in  976  he  seems  to  have 
obtained  increased  power,  and  independence  of  the  duchy  of 
Bavaria,  though  some  writers  hold  that  for  yet  a  while  the 
Bavarian  Dukes  had  some  sort  of  undefined  supremacy  over  the 
East  Mark.  This,  however,  disappeared  in  course  of  time,  and 
the  Babenberg  dynasty  (which  takes  its  name  from  a  castle  near 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    129 

Bamberg,  the  name  of  that  town  being  a  mere  variation  of  that 
of  the  castle)  ruled  in  the  East  Mark,  with  varying  fortunes,  till 
the  extinction  of  the  male  line  in  1246.  It  seems  odd  nowa- 
days to  associate  with  Austria  any  name  other  than  that  of  the 
Habsburgers,  but  they,  with  their  usual  good  fortune,  simply 
entered  upon  other  men's  labours,  gaining  all  the  profit  and 
advantage,  without  much  trouble  to  themselves.  In  1156 
Austria  was  raised  to  the  rank  of  a  duchy  (it  became  an  arch- 
duchy only  long  afterwards,  in  1453),  while  in  1192  (by  an 
arrangement  made  in  1186)  the  Mark  oi  Styria  (Steiermark) — 
which  in  1035  had  been  cut  off  from  Carinthia,  and  in  1056  had 
come  to  the  Counts  of  Steier,  or  Steyr,  a  castle  near  the  junction 
of  the  river  of  that  name  with  the  Enns — was  inherited  by  the 
Babenbergers  on  the  extinction  of  the  male  line  of  its  rulers, 
who  had  assumed  the  title  of  duke  in  11 80.  After  the  failure 
of  the  male  line  of  the  Babenbergers  in  1246,  a  time  of  confusion 
followed,  as  the  last  duke  left  only  a  sister.  The  Emperor 
Frederick  11.  ruled  in  Austria  from  1246  till  his  death  at  the 
close  of  1250,  when  the  land  was  occupied  (12  51)  by  the 
Slavonic  prince,  Ottakar,  who,  in  1253,  succeeded  his  father  as 
king  of  Bohemia,  and  became  the  second  husband,  in  1252 
(her  first  had  been  Frederick's  son,  Henry),  of  Margaret,  the 
only  surviving  sister  of  the  last  Babenberger.  It  was  not,  how- 
ever, till  1 259-1 260  that  Ottakar  was  able  to  wrest  Styria  (save  a 
bit  in  its  N.  region,  the  Plittner  Mark,  which  had  been  got  in 
1254  from  Hungary  by  Austria)  from  Bela  iv.,  the  Magyar  king 
of  Hungary.  In  1269  Ottakar,  by  virtue  of  an  arrangement, 
succeeded,  on  the  extinction  of  the  male  line  of  its  dukes,  to 
the  duchy  of  Carinthia  (Karnthen),  as  well  as  to  the  county  of 
Carniola  (Krain),  which,  practically  cut  off  from  Carinthia  about 
1040,  had  had  to  struggle  for  its  independence  against  the 
Patriarchs  of  Aquileia,  and  the  Bishops  of  Brixen  and  Freising  : 
the  last  duke-count  (who  had  won  the  day  against  the  Patriarchs 
in  1261  and  died  in  1269)  had  married  the  divorced  wife  of  the 
last  of  the  Babenbergers,  and  had  instituted  Ottakar  as  his 
heir. 

Thus  Ottakar  had  got  into  his  hands  a  number  of  provinces 
I 


I30     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

(Austria  in  1251,  Styria  in  1 259-1 260,  Carinthia  and  Carniola  in 
1269),  while  in  1253  he  had  inherited  the  kingdom  of  Bohemia 
as  well  as  Moravia  from  his  father.  His  position  was  there- 
fore very  threatening  to  the  German  lands  to  the  W.,  for  though 
his  dominions  lay  between  them  and  the  Magyar  kingdom  of 
Hungary,  yet  Ottakar  was  the  head  of  a  Slavonic  power,  and  so 
was  a  menace  to  Western  Europe.  The  fear  of  this  powerful 
monarch  was  one  of  the  main  reasons  which  brought  about 
the  election  of  Rudolf  of  Habsburg  in  1273  to  the  Empire,  and 
this  choice  was  soon  justified.  Already  in  1276  Ottakar  (who 
had  been  Rudolf's  rival  for  the  imperial  crown  in  1273)  was 
forced  to  renounce  his  domains  of  Austria,  Styria,  Carinthia, 
and  Carniola  in  favour  of  Rudolf,  and  to  consent  to  hold 
Bohemia  and  Moravia  as  fiefs  from  the  Empire.  But  Ottakar 
could  not  bring  himself  to  give  up  finally  his  splendid  realm 
without  a  further  struggle,  in  which,  however,  he  was  defeated  in 
the  battle  of  the  Marchfeld,  near  Vienna  (1278),  losing  his  life 
as  well  as  his  dominions.  He  had  thus  prepared  the  way  for 
the  Habsburgers,  who,  by  this  victory,  became  the  practical  as 
well  as  nominal  kings  of  Germany,  to  which,  too,  they  had 
brought  a  vast  accession  of  territory,  wrung  from  the  advancing 
Slavonic  race,  though  henceforth  to  remain  both  German  and 
Austrian.  But  Rudolf  did  not  long  keep  these  conquered 
lands  in  his  own  hands,  for  in  1282  he  invested  his  two  sons 
(in  1283  he  gave  all  to  the  elder)  with  the  lands  he  had  won 
for  Germany.  However,  in  order  to  satisfy  a  powerful  neighbour 
(of  whom  we  shall  have  to  speak  again  presently),  Meinhard  11., 
Count  of  the  Tyrol,  who  had  helped  much  to  defeat  Ottakar, 
and  whose  daughter,  Elisabeth,  had  in  1276  married  Rudolf's 
son  and  successor,  Albert,  Rudolf  had  in  1286  to  give  him 
Carinthia  and  Carniola,  stipulating,  however,  that  should 
Meinhard's  male  posterity  ever  fail,  the  Habsburgers  were  to 
have  the  right  of  succession.  This  event  took  place  in  1335, 
on  the  death  of  Henry,  Meinhard's  son,  so  that  Albert  11., 
Albert  of  Habsburg's  son  (he  himself  had  been  murdered  in 
1308)  then  added  these  lands  permanently  to  the  Habsburgers' 
inheritance  of  Austria  and  Styria. 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    131 

(i>)  The  South  Mark,  or  CarintMa. — It  was  simpler  to  speak 
of  the  fortunes  of  this  district  from  1269  to  1335  i^  the  preced- 
ing section,  as  during  that  period  it  was  becoming  '  Austrian  '  or 
part  of  the  Habsburger  inheritance.  But  in  order  to  complete 
our  account  we  must  sketch  briefly  the  history  of  this  South 
Mark  from  976  to  1269. 

In  976,  as  we  have  seen,  this  Mark,  raised  to  the  rank  of 
a  duchy  and  united  with  the  Mark  of  Verona,  was  cut  off  from 
the  old  duchy  of  Bavaria,  though  it  was  twice  reunited  with  it 
for  short  intervals  before  1002,  when  it  was  finally  separated 
from  it.  It  passed  through  many  hands  in  the  course  of  the 
eleventh  century,  mainly  those  of  local  rulers,  save  the  Emperor 
Conrad  11.  (1036-9).  But  during  that  century  it  had  been  cut 
short  in  many  directions.  Styria  had  parted  off  in  1035,  and 
Carniola  about  1040,  while  by  the  time  of  the  death  of  Otto  11. 
(983)  the  temporal  powers  of  rhe  Patriarchs  of  Aquileia  had  so 
increased  that  they  had  become  masters  of  the  E.  portion  (the 
history  of  the  W.  portion  will  be  sketched  below  under 
Section  C,  The  'Venetian  Phase'),  which  gradually  acquired 
the  name  of  Friuli.  Hence  the  name  of  Markgraf  of  Verona 
was  a  mere  empty  title  when  in  1061  it  came  to  the  House  of 
Zaringen,  and  from  it  to  that  of  Baden.  Meanwhile  the  duchy 
of  Carinthia  itself  had  passed  through  the  local  dynasties  of 
Eppenstein  (1012-1122)  and  Sponheim  (1122-1269).  By  1261 
the  last  duke  had  established  his  independence  as  against  the 
Patriarchs  of  Aquileia,  and  on  his  death  (1269)  his  dominions 
(which  included  Carniola  by  virtue  of  his  marriage  with  the 
widow  of  the  last  of  the  Babenbergers,  d.  1246),  passed  by 
virtue  of  his  testament  to  Ottakar,  king  of  Bohemia,  whence 
they  came  (as  above  noted)  first  in  1278,  then  1282-6,  and 
finally  in  1335  to  the  Habsburgers. 


(c)  The  Tyrol. — The  half-ruined  castle  of  Tyrol  still  stands 
on  the  heights  to  the  N.W.  of  Meran,  in  the  upper  valley  of  the 
Adige  or  the  Vintschgau.     But  it  is  not  till  about  1140  that  we 


132     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

first  hear  of  '  a  count  of  the  Tyrol.'  These  counts  became  the 
heirs  of  other  feudal  lords  the  power  of  which  had  gradually 
grown  up  in  the  S.  portion  of  the  Bavarian  duchy  of  976.  In  1027 
the  Emperor  Conrad  11.  took  a  step  which  decided  the  future 
fortunes  of  this  region — he  granted  all  temporal  powers  in  the 
district  S.  of  the  Brenner  Pass,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Botzen, 
and  in  the  Vintschgau  (that  is,  in  the  whole  of  the  upper  Adige 
valley  from  a  short  distance  below  the  town  of  Trent),  to  the 
Bishop  of  Trent  (the  see  dates  from  the  early  fifth  century), 
who  thus  obtained  a  very  great  position,  while  practically  his  wide 
lands  then  ceased  to  be  Italian,  and  became  part  of  the  German 
kingdom.  At  the  same  date  Conrad  conferred  similar  temporal 
jurisdiction,  in  the  Eisack  valley  (just  S.  of  the  Brenner  Pass)  and 
in  the  Inn  valley  (N.  of  that  pass),  on  the  Bishop  of  Brixen  (the 
see  had  been  founded  at  the  end  of  the  eighth  century  at  Saben, 
on  the  cliffs  above  the  Eisack  valley,  some  way  below  the  town 
of  Brixen,  to  which  it  was  transferred  about  992).  These  two 
bishops  thus  kept  guard  over  the  great  highway  of  the  Brenner 
Pass,  by  far  the  most  important  in  the  Eastern  Alps.  But  the 
bishops  themselves  could  not  exercise  in  person  the  extensive 
temporal  rights  which  had  been  conferred  upon  them.  They 
sought  lay  nobles  to  whom  to  intrust  their  responsibilities.  For 
the  N.  portion  of  his  realm  the  Bishop  of  Trent  selected  his 
'protectors,'  the  Counts  of  the  Tyrol  (first  mentioned  in  1140),  to 
whom  also  the  Bishop  of  Brixen  committed  the  Eisack  valley;  the 
Bishop  of  Brixen  chose  the  Count  of  Andechs  (a  castle  S.W.  of 
Munich),  who  was  the  '  protector '  of  the  bishopric,  and  besides 
already  possessed  many  estates  in  the  region  subject  to  the 
bishop.  The  family  of  Andechs  held,  in  particular,  the  Inn 
valley,  just  above  Innsbruck,  and  in  1152  received  from  the 
bishop  that  portion  of  the  same  valley  which  is  around  Inns- 
bruck. Through  an  heiress  they  obtained  about  11 70  the 
marquessate  of  Istria,  while  their  ever-increasing  lands  in  those 
parts  won  them  about  1180  the  dignity  of  Dukes  of  Merania 
(that  is,  of  the  coast-land,  near  the  sea  or  '  mare,'  the  name 
having  nothing  to  do  with  the  town  of  Meran).  The  House  of 
Andechs  became  extinct  in  the  male  line  in  1248,  when  its  Inn 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    133 

and  Eisack  valley  fiefs  reverted  to  the  Bishop  of  Brixen.  Now 
the  last  of  the  Andechs  line  had  married  Elisabeth,  the  younger 
daughter  of  Albert  i.,  Count  of  the  Tyrol,  and  so  naturally  the 
bishop  granted  to  the  Count  of  the  Tyrol  the  fiefs  which  had  just 
fallen  vacant.  Until  then,  and  for  some  time  yet,  there  is  not 
the  slightest  connection  between  the  Tyrol  and  the  Habsburgers, 


THE    TYROL    AND    THE    HABSBURGERS 
Albert  i.,  Count  of  the  Tyrol. 


Adelaide, 
Inh.  the  Tyrol,  1253, 

d.  1275. 
m.  Meinhard  l. 
Count  of  Gbrz, 
d.  1258. 


Meinhard  ii. 
(Tyrol), 
d.  1295. 


Henry, 

d-  1335. 

m.  Anne  of 

Bohemia. 


Margaret 
(Maultasch) 
d.  1369. 

I 

Meinhard  hi., 

d.  1363. 


Albert  ii. 

(Gorz),  d.  1304, 

Inh.  1500  by  the 

Habsburgers. 


Elisabeth, 
(i)  Otto,  last  of 
the  Andechs 
dynasty. 
(2)  Gebhard  ii., 
Count  of 
Hirschberg. 

I 
Gebhard  hi. 


Elisabeth, 

m.,  1276,  Albert  i. 

of  Habsburg. 


I 
Albert  il, 

Inh.  Carinthia,  1335, 
d.  1358. 

I 

Rudolf  iv., 

Inh.  the  Tyrol, 

1363- 


though  their  turn  is  coming  soon.  Elisabeth's  elder  sister, 
Adelaide,  had  married  Meinhard  i. ,  Count  of  Gorz,  a  land  far 
away  to  the  S.,  and  a  little  N.  of  Trieste  and  Aquileia.  Adelaide 
brought  (1253)  the  Tyrol  to  her  husband  (as  she  and  her 
sister  were  the  co-heiresses  of  their  father),  who  also  obtained  in 
1284  the  Inn  valley  from  the  sole  child  of  Elisabeth.  On  the 
death  of  Meinhard  i.  (1258)  his  two  sons  divided  his  territories; 


134     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  elder,  Meinhard  ii.  (who  in  1284  obtained  the  Inn  valley 
from  the  only  child  of  Elisabeth,  and  in  1286  the  duchy  of 
Carinthia  and  county  of  Carniola  from  Rudolf  of  Habsburg,  as 
a  reward  for  help  at  the  battle  of  the  Marchfeld  in  1278  against 
Ottakar,  king  of  Bohemia),  took  the  Tyrol ;  while  his  younger 
brother,  Albert,  succeeded  to  the  county  of  Gorz  (as  we  shall 
see  later,  on  the  failure  of  this  Albert's  line,  Gorz  came  to 
the  heirs  of  the  elder  line,  in  1500,  and  those  heirs  were  the 
Habsburgers).  Now  Meinhard  11.  had  two  children  with  whom 
we  have  to  do.  The  son,  Henry,  married  Anne,  the  grand- 
daughter of  Ottakar  11.,  and  so  became  king  of  Bohemia  for  a 
short  time  (1307-13 10),  while  Meinhard's  daughter,  Elisabeth, 
married  Albert  of  Habsburg  (Rudolf's  son).  Henry's  only  child 
was  Margaret,  known  as  '  Margaret  Pocket  Mouth '  (Maul- 
tasch),  who  succeeded  her  father  on  his  death  (1335)  in  the 
county  of  the  Tyrol,  while  the  duchy  of  Carinthia  passed  to 
the  Habsburgers,  in  the  person  of  Albert's  son,  who  was 
Margaret's  first  cousin.  Margaret  had  two  husbands,  but  only 
a  single  child  (Meinhard  iii.),  on  whose  death  in  1363  (after  a 
reign  of  two  years)  a  struggle  seemed  imminent  for  the  succession 
to  his  domains.  But  only  two  weeks  after  her  son's  death, 
Margaret  solemnly  promised  the  Habsburgers  (to  whom,  in 
1359,  she  had  bequeathed  her  domains,  in  case  of  the  extinction 
of  her  line)  that  they  should  have  her  realms  at  her  death,  and 
that  till  then  she  would  reign  in  their  name.  She  at  the  same 
time  ordered  her  subjects  to  swear  allegiance  to  the  Habs- 
burgers. But  they  still  feared  that  they  might  lose  the  splendid 
prize.  Hence  later  in  1363  they  put  pressure  on  Margaret  to 
abdicate,  and  (in  return  for  the  cession  of  certain  places  for  the 
rest  of  her  life,  and  a  pension)  she  gave  way  to  their  importun- 
ities. She  retired  to  Vienna,  and  there  ended  her  days  in 
1369,  at  the  age  of  51  years. 

One  can  easily  understand  the  longing  of  the  Habsburgers 
for  the  Tyrol.  Its  topographical  position  astride  the  Alps,  and 
commanding  both  sides  of  the  principal  pass  in  the  region, 
gave  to  its  masters  an  enormous  influence,  and  enabled  them 
to  block,  at  will,  the  direct  route  from  Germany  to  Italy,     Of 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    135 

Margaret's  two  husbands  the  former  had  belonged  to  the  power- 
ful House  of  Luxemburg,  which  held  the  Empire  from  13 12 
to  1437,  with  two  short  breaks  (1328-1347  and  1400-1410),  as 
well  as  Bohemia  from  13 10  to  1457  :  the  second  was  a  member 
of  a  not  less  powerful  Bavarian  house,  which  held  the  Empire 
from  1328  to  1347  (in  the  person  of  Margaret's  father-in-law), 
and  whose  domains  were  uncomfortably  near  those  of  the 
Habsburgers.  The  possession  of  the  Tyrol  also  enabled  the 
Habsburgers  to  make  an  attempt  to  advance  back  towards  the 
W.  towards  their  original  homes.  That  scheme  was  (as  we 
have  noted  above)  stopped  in  1499  by  the  Swiss  victory  at  the 
battle  of  the  Calven  gorge.  But  it  had  been  more  dangerous 
than  might  appear  at  first  sight,  for  in  1375  the  Habsburgers 
had  bought  Feldkirch  in  the  Rhine  valley  from  the  Counts  of 
Montfort,  and  in  1394  Bludenz  and  the  Montafon  valley  from 
the  Counts  of  Werdenberg,  while  in  145 1  and  1523  they  acquired 
the  county  of  Bregenz  from  the  Werdenberg  family.  All  these 
acquisitions  (which  are  commonly  grouped  under  the  name  of 
the  Vorarlberg)  meant  the  command  of  the  Arlberg  Pass,  lead- 
ing directly  from  Innsbruck  to  the  Rhine  valley  at  Feldkirch, 
thus  at  once  threatening  St.  Gall,  Appenzell,  and  Coire.  Here 
the  danger  to  the  Swiss  Confederation  and  its  allies  was  averted 
in  1405  by  the  glorious  victory  of  the  Stoss  (in  Appenzell,  on 
the  heights  by  which  one  goes  from  Altstatten  in  the  Rhine 
valley  to  Appenzell  and  St.  Gall):  in  141 1  Appenzell,  and  in 
1454  St.  Gall,  were  received  as  'allies'  of  the  Swiss  Con- 
federation ;  the  Thurgau  (to  their  N.W.)  conquered  from  the 
Habsburgers  in  1460,  and  Winterthur  acquired  in  1467. 
Towards  the  S.  of  Feldkirch  the  situation  was  secured  (as  we 
have  already  shown)  by  the  gradual  formation  of  the  Three 
Rstian  Leagues  (1367,  1395,  and  1436),  while  the  purchase 
of  all  remaining  Habsburger  rights  in  the  Prattigau  (just  S.  of 
the  Montafon  valley)  in  1649- 165  2,  and  in  the  Lower  Engadine 
in  1652,  made  the  Swiss  Confederation  quite  secure  against  its 
old  foe.  He  had  long  pressed  it  on  the  N.  and  the  E.,  and  had 
renewed  his  attacks  (think  of  Morgarten  in  13 15,  of  Sempach 
in  1386,  and  of  Nafels  in  1388)  after  he  had  vastly  increased 


136     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

his  power  by  the  acquisition  of  these  wide  lands  of  '  Austria ' 
— namely  Austria  proper,  Styria,  Carinthia,  Carniola,  and  the 
Tyrol,  while  he  had  held  the  imperial  crown  from  1273  onwards, 
save  between  1308  and  1438. 

More  success  attended  the  efforts  of  the  Habsburgers  to 
estabHsh  their  sole  rule  in  the  Tyrol.  These  took  place  chiefly 
in  the  reign  of  Maximilian  (Emperor  from  1493  to  1519,  and 
grandfather  of  Charles  v.).  In  1500  he  succeeded  to  the  county 
of  Gorz  by  virtue  of  an  arrangement  made  with  the  last  counts, 
his  kinsmen.  This  inheritance  meant  far  more  than  the  mere 
addition  of  that  county  to  his  domains,  for  the  counts  held  also 
the  whole  of  the  Pusterthal  from  Lienz  to  near  the  Eisack  valley, 
above  Brixen.  Now  the  Pusterthal  offers  the  direct  route  from 
Carinthia  to  the  Brenner  road,  and  it  commands  the  Ampezzo 
Pass  leading  S.  from  Toblach  towards  Venice.  Hence  the 
possession  of  this  region  by  another  family  (even  if  connected 
by  ties  of  blood)  was  very  inconvenient  for  the  Habsburgers, 
who,  without  it,  were  debarred  from  all  communications  between 
Carinthia  and  the  Brenner  route,  save  by  a  huge  detour  towards 
N.  round  the  snowy  crest  of  the  Tauern  and  Zillerthal  Alps,  or 
by  another,  even  more  roundabout,  to  the  S.  of  the  Dolomites. 
These  two  lofty  ranges  enclose  the  Pusterthal  on  the  N.  and 
the  S.  respectively,  and  thus  enhance  its  importance  as  the  great 
highway  from  Carinthia,  Carniola,  and  Styria,  to  the  true  and 
original  Tyrol,  to  the  middle  Inn  valley,  and  to  the  upper  Adige 
and  Eisack  valleys. 

In  1505  (formally  in  1507)  Maximilian  made  other  acquisitions 
in  the  Tyrol,  this  time  from  the  House  of  Bavaria,  which  had 
been  torn  by  a  disputed  succession.  These  included  the  fortress 
and  the  lordship  of  Kufstein,  as  well  as  the  lordships  of  Kitzbiihel, 
and  of  Rattenberg,  with  the  Bavarian  portion  of  the  Zillerthal. 
These  districts  had  belonged  to  Margaret  Maultasch  in  right 
of  her  second  husband,  and  had  been  handed  over  to  her  on 
her  abdication,  with  reversion  to  the  House  of  Bavaria.  Hence 
Maximilian  was  only  too  eager  to  secure  them,  after  they  had 
once  so  narrowly  missed  his  family,  for,  lying  to  the  N.E. 
and  E.  of  Innsbruck,  they  command  the  exit  from  Innsbruck 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    137 

towards  the  plains.  Now  the  Habsburgers  had  the  whole  of 
the  routes  over  the  Brenner  and  over  the  Arlberg  in  their  own 
hands,  while  the  Tyrolese  frontier  towards  the  N.E.  was  also 
well  secured  against  those  troublesome  Bavarian  neighbours. 

As  we  have  noted  more  than  once,  Maximilian  was  unsuccess- 
ful (1499)  in  his  attempt  to  extend  the  power  of  his  house 
towards  the  W.  But  to  his  successes  towards  the  E.  (1500) 
and  the  N.E.  (1505)  he  added  others  to  the  S.,  which  naturally 
carry  us  on  to  the  third  great  phase  through  which  the  history 
of  the  Habsburgers  in  the  Alps  has  passed. 

C. — The  'Venetian  Phase' 

The  old  Mark  of  Verona,  which  in  952  had  been  separated 
from  Italy  in  order  to  be  united  to  the  duchy  of  Bavaria,  and 
in  976  was  transferred  to  that  of  Carinthia,  had  by  the  eleventh 
century  been  shorn  of  its  fair  proportions  (it  originally  stretched 
from  the  Lake  of  Garda  to  the  Isonzo).  On  the  W.  the 
bishopric  of  Trent  had  in  1027  been  cut  off  from  Italy  to  form 
an  ecclesiastical  principality,  which  was  politically  German, 
while  on  the  E.  the  Patriarch  of  Aquileia  had  succeeded  in 
establishing  his  power  over  Friuli  as  a  temporal  ruler.  The 
central  portion  of  the  old  Mark  therefore  was  all  that  remained 
(its  S.  bit  gradually  took  the  more  modest  name  of  March  of 
Treviso),  and  practically  again  became  a  part  of  Italy  and  no 
longer  of  Germany.  The  Alpine  portions  of  this  remnant  of 
the  old  Mark  of  Verona  passed,  after  the  final  break-up  of  the 
Empire  in  1250,  into  the  possession  of  the  Scala  family  of 
Verona,  which  extended  their  rule  to  Vicenza,  Belluno,  Feltre, 
etc.,  so  that  by  the  early  fourteenth  century  they  were  practically 
supreme  in  these  parts.  But  this  predominance  was  threatened 
on  the  S.E.  by  the  Carraras  of  Padua,  and  on  the  W.  by  the 
Visconti  of  Milan.  In  1388  the  Scala  rule  (which  had  lasted 
about  one  hundred  and  tnirty  years)  came  to  an  end,  the  domains 
of  that  family  passing  to  the  Visconti,  who  tricked  the  Carraras 
out  of  the  share  promised  to  them.  But  after  the  death  of  Gian 
Galeazzo  Visconti  in  1402  the  power  of  his  family  was  broken 


138     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

for  a  time.  The  Carraras  at  once  seized  on  Verona.  But  this 
excited  the  jealousy  of  the  great  state  which  had  been  steadily 
increasing  in  influence  and  authority  in  these  regions,  and 
was  soon  to  swallow  up  all  these  striving  families.  In  1339 
Venice  had  set  foot  on  the  mainland  by  its  acquisition  of 
Treviso  and  the  March  of  that  name.  Now,  in  the  struggle 
following  Gian  Galeazzo's  death,  it  saw  its  opportunity,  and  it 
must  be  said  that  the  Venetians  made  good  use  of  the  chance 
offered  to  them.  In  1404  they  occupied  Vicenza  and  the 
neighbouring  region  of  Belluno  aud  Feltre  (which  from  the 
tenth  century  had  been  governed  by  their  bishops  till  these 
were  replaced  in  132 1-2  by  the  Scala  family),  while  in  1405 
they  laid  hands  upon  Verona  also.  It  is  true  that  Belluno 
and  Feltre  were  lost  in  141 1  to  Sigismund,  king  of  Hungary,' 
(the  later  Emperor),  but  they  were  won  again  in  1420,  and 
henceforth  formed  part  of  the  Venetian  dominions.  Stimulated 
by  these  first  successes,  Venice  brought  under  her  rule  the 
whole  of  Friuli  (1418-1420),  the  Patriarchs  of  Aquileia  being 
obliged  to  content  themselves  henceforth  with  being  spiritual 
princes.  Next,  in  1426,  Venice  pushed  on  to  the  W.,  and 
occupied  Brescia,  while  in  1428  she  added  Bergamo  and  its 
region.  Her  rule  thus  extended  from  the  lower  course  of  the 
Adda  to  near  the  course  of  the  Isonzo. 

To  us  who  are  paying  special  attention  to  the  history  of  the 
Alps,  the  most  interesting  point  about  these  conquests  by 
Venice  is  how  they  affected  some  of  the  villages  in  the  Eastern 
Alps  which,  of  late,  have  become  well  known  to  travellers — 
such  as  Primiero,  Caprile,  and  Cortina  d'Ampezzo,  two  of  which 
are  Austrian  (Tyrolese)  at  present,  while  Caprile  alone  is  Italian. 

Primiero  long  belonged  to  the  Bishops  of  Feltre,  but  the 
discovery  of  iron  mines  near  by  led  many  persons  to  try  to 
secure  it  for  themselves,  as  lords  under  the  suzerainty  of  the 
bishops.  In  1355  the  Emperor  Charles  iv.  erected  Primiero 
into  a  separate  lordship,  which  passed  (with  Feltre)  in  1363  to 
the  Carraras  of  Padua.  In  1373  this  family  ceded  it  (with 
Feltre)  to  the  Habsburgers,  who  had  recently  become  Counts  of 
the  Tyrol.     However,  in  1384  the  new  owners  gave  back  Feltre 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    139 

(as  we  saw  above  it  became  Venetian  in  1404)  to  the  Carraras, 
but  reserved  the  lordship  of  Primiero,  which  was  thus  cut  off 
from  Feltre,  and  became  part  of  the  Tyrol.  In  1401  they 
granted  the  district  (with  the  stronghold  of  Castello  della  Pietra, 
destroyed  by  fire  in  1675,  the  ruins  being  now  inaccessible  save 
by  employing  artificial  means)  to  their  chamberlain,  George  of 
Welsperg,  whose  descendants  exercised  jurisdiction  there  till 
1827,  and  still  inhabit  the  region.  Such  is  the  way  in  which 
Primiero  became  Tyrolese,  though  one  would  naturally  have 
expected  it  to  become  Venetian,  and  so  Italian. 

Caprile,  however,  did  become  Venetian,  and  later  Italian. 
It  has  always  formed  part  of  the  district  of  Agordo,  which 
belonged  for  centuries  to  the  Bishop  of  Belluno  (this  see  was 
united  with  that  of  Feltre  in  1197,  separated  from  it  in  1462, 
and  reunited  to  it  in  181 8).  In  the  course  of  time  the  bishop's 
power  became  enfeebled,  and  he  was  replaced  by  a  rapid 
succession  of  lords  till  in  1360  the  district  came  to  the  Carraras 
of  Padua.  It  was  in  the  hands  of  the  Habsburgers  (as  Counts 
of  the  Tyrol)  from  1384  to  1386,  but  was  lost  (with  all  their 
lands)  by  the  Carraras  in  1388  to  the  Visconti.  They  held  it 
till  1402,  and  in  1404  Agordo,  with  Caprile,  was  taken  by  the 
Venetians  at  the  same  time  as  Belluno  and  Feltre.  The 
Tyrolese  frontier  is,  of  course,  only  a  little  way  from  Caprile  at 
the  present  day,  because  the  upper  portion  of  the  Cordevole 
valley  (called  Buchenstein)  belonged  to  the  Bishop  of  Brixen 
(that  is,  to  the  Tyrol),  and  so  has  had  a  history  entirely  different 
from  those  of  Caprile  and  of  Agordo. 

The  case  of  Cortifia  and  the  Ampezzo  valley  is  utterly  dis- 
similar. In  1500  the  Habsburgers  inherited,  as  part  of  the 
county  of  Gorz,  the  Pusterthal,  and  so  Toblach,  with  the  valley 
running  up  S.  to  the  Ampezzo  Pass.  The  other  side  of  the 
pass  (with,  therefore,  complete  command  of  the  great  highway 
from  the  Tyrol  to  Venice)  was  occupied  for  a  while  in  1509, 
though  only  definitively  acquired  in  15 17,  forming  part  of  the 
spoils  won  by  Maximilian  of  Habsburg  from  Venice  (which,  in 
1420  had  taken  it  from  Aquileia,  to  whom  it  had  belonged  since 
1335)  at  the  end  of  the  war  of  the  League  of  Cambray. 


I40     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Hence  it  is  that  though  Primiero,  Caprile,  and  Cortina  are 
all  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Alpine  chain,  and  so  might  be 
expected  to  be  all  now  Italian,  and  Venetian  in  the  past,  this 
is  really  the  case  with  Caprile  alone,  for  Primiero  was  never 
Venetian,  and  Cortina  was  early  lost  to  Venice.  Yet,  as  every 
traveller  in  the  Dolomites  knows,  the  political  frontier  passes, 
to  this  day,  quite  close  to  all  three  spots,  for  by  an  historical 
accident  two  of  them  belong  to  a  German-speaking  state,  though 
in  each  Italian  is  the  mother-tongue  of  the  inhabitants. 

An  early  conquest  of  Venetian  territory  by  the  Habsburgers 
was  that  of  the  lower  Val  Sugana  (which  joins,  at  Primolano, 
the  Primiero  valley),  taken  by  them  in  141 3,  though  nominally 
held  till  1670  under  the  suzerainty  of  the  Bishop  of  Feltre. 
Besides  Ampezzo,  Maximilian  in  15 17  obtained  from  Venice 
(he  had  occupied  them  in  1509)  the  towns  of  Roveredo  and 
Ala  (later,  in  1576,  given  to  the  Bishop  of  Trent,  when  the 
Habsburgers  formally  acknowledged  the  temporal  '  principality  of 
Trent '),  together  with  some  neighbouring  villages,  all  S.  of  Trent 
in  the  Adige  valley.  These  acquisitions  of  15 17,  together  with 
Ampezzo  valley  and  the  Val  Sugana,  were  formed  (15 18)  into 
a  district  named  the  '  welsche  Confinien  '  or  '  Confinen '  (that 
is,  the  Italian-speaking  border-lands).  It  was  annexed  to  the 
Tyrol  (not  to  the  bishopric  of  Trent,  which,  till  1803,  was  not 
formally  subject  to  the  Habsburgers),  and  formed  a  sort  of 
'  buffer '  region  between  the  German-speaking  Tyrol  and  the 
Italian-speaking  domains  of  Venice.  It  should,  too,  be  borne 
in  mind  that  at  that  time  the  Trentino  was  not  nearly  as 
Italianised  as  it  is  at  present.  From  1027  onward  it  had  formed 
a  part  of  Germany,  not  of  Italy,  while  Felix  Faber,  a  German 
pilgrim  who  visited  the  city  of  Trent  in  1483,  tells  us  that  then 
the  lower  city  was  purely  German  in  character. 

But  these  acquisitions  by  the  Habsburgers  at  the  cost  of 
Venice  represent  but  nibblings  at  the  long-coveted  Venetian 
dominions.  By  the  Treaty  of  Campoformio  (1797)  Napoleon 
(or,  strictly  speaking,  the  French  Republic)  put  an  end  to  the 
independent  existence  of  Venice  as  a  sovereign  state.  The 
western    portion    of    her    territory,    W.    of    the    lower    Adige 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    141 

(Bergamo  and  Brescia),  was  then  annexed  to  the  Cisalpine 
Republic  (which  in  1805  became  the  kingdom  of  Italy,  under 
Napoleon  himself),  while  the  eastern  portion  (including  the 
Bellunese  and  Friuli,  with  Venice  itself)  was  handed  over  to 
the  Habsburgers.  But  in  1805,  at  the  Peace  of  Pressburg,  the 
Habsburgers  lost  these  rich  plains,  which  were  annexed  to 
the  kingdom  of  Italy.  However,  in  18 15  they  recovered  the 
districts  lost  in  1805,  and  received,  for  the  first  time,  the  western 
portion  (Bergamo  and  Brescia)  of  the  Venetian  state,  so  that 
they  now  held  the  whole  of  the  Venetian  dominions.  This 
accession  of  territory  completed  (for  by  that  time,  as  we  shall 
see  presently,  they  had  also  obtained  the  secularised  bishopric 
of  Trent),  their  occupation  (1814-1859)  of  the  entire  region  of 
the  Eastern  Alps,  including  both  slopes  of  all  the  great  Alpine 
passes  included  therein.  The  Italian  possessions  of  the 
Habsburgers  in  N.  Italy  (the  Milanese  and  the  Veneto)  were 
joined  together  in  the  '  Lombardo-Venetian  kingdom.'  But 
in  1859  the  Milanese,  and  the  western  portion  (Bergamo  and 
Brescia)  of  the  Veneto,  were  lost  to  the  king  of  Sardinia  (in 
1 86 1  to  become  the  king  of  United  Italy),  while  in  1866  the 
rest  of  the  Veneto  was  handed  over  to  the  new  kingdom  of 
Italy.  Thus  ended  the  '  Venetian  Phase '  of  the  history  of 
the  Habsburgers.  They  kept  only  the  bishopric  of  Trent,  and 
the  '  welsche  Confinien,'  a  mere  fragment  of  their  territories 
between  1814  and  1859.  It  should  be  noted  too  that  in  1866 
the  districts  ceded  by  Austria  were  precisely  those  formerly 
held  by  Venice.  That  is  the  historical  reason  why  such 
Italian  spots  as  Aquileia,  and  Gorz,  and  (to  a  certain  extent) 
Trieste,  are  still  Austrian,  and  have  not  become  Italian, 
forming  (with  the  Trentino)  what  is  called  '  Italia  Irredenta,' 
though,  strictly  speaking,  for  many  centuries  no  part  of  these 
regions  has  been  in  Italy. 

The  loss  in  1859  of  the  Bergamasca  meant  the  loss  by  the 
Habsburgers  of  the  W.  slope  of  the  Tonale  Pass  (leading  from 
Trent  to  the  head  of  the  Val  Camonica,  or  the  Oglio  valley). 
In  the  same  year  they  also  lost  to  Italy  the  Valtelline,  with 
Bormio  and  Chiavenna  (in  short,  the  upper  valley  of  the  Adda), 


142     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

which  they  had  received  in  1815  (these  districts,  lost  to  the 
Grisons  in  1797,  had  belonged,  first  to  the  Cisalpine  Republic, 
and  then  to  the  Napoleonic  kingdom  of  Italy).  Thus  they 
lost  not  merely  the  W.  slope  of  the  Stelvio  Pass  (from  the 
Tyrol  to  the  Valtelline),  over  which  the  Austrian  Govern- 
ment had  constructed,  1820-5,  a  magnificent  carriage  road, 
the  highest  (9055  ft.)  in  the  Alps,  to  connect  two  bits  of  their 
dominions,  but  also  both  sides  of  the  Aprica  Pass  (3875  ft.), 
a  low  and  very  easy  pass  (traversed  by  a  carriage  road)  which 
leads  from  the  head  of  the  Val  Camonica  to  the  Valtelline. 

With  these  two  partial  exceptions,  and  the  S.  slope  of  the 
Plocken  or  Monte  Croce  Pass  (4462  ft.,  from  Carinthia  to  Friuli), 
lost  in  1866,  the  Habsburgers  still  hold  all  the  great  Alpine 
passes  in  the  Eastern  Alps,  so  that  our  scheme  of  considering 
that  the  political  history  of  the  Eastern  Alps  is  but  a  portion  of 
that  of  the  Habsburgers  is  fully  justified. 


The  Alpine  Lands  of  the  Habsburgers  during  the  Napoleonic 

Era. — During  the  few  but  terrible  years  that  extend  from  1803 
to  18 14  the  lot  of  the  Habsburgers,  in  their  hereditary  Alpine 
lands  (we  have  mentioned  the  fortunes  of  the  Veneto  above) 
was  a  very  chequered  one.  In  1801,  indeed,  they  had  been 
forced  to  hand  over  to  France  the  lordship  of  Tarasp  in  the 
Lower  Engadine  (which  France  transferred  in  1803  to  the 
Swiss  Confederation),  but  in  1803  they  had  gained  an 
enormous  accession  of  territory — the  secularised  bishoprics  of 
Trent  and  Brixen  (of  which  the  lands  had  so  long  formed 
'  enclaves '  in  their  Tyrolese  possessions)  as  well  as  the  arch- 
bishopric of  Salzburg  (including  the  secularised  priory  of  Austin 
Canons  at  Berchtesgaden,  founded  in  1108):  it  was  founded 
in  the  sixth  century  and  had  been  a  metropolitan  see  since  798, 
but  was  now  secularised  and  made  into  a  new  electorate  for 
the  Emperor's  brother,  the  Archduke  Ferdinand  (formerly 
from  1 79 1  to  1 80 1  Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany). 

But  they   paid   bitterly  for  their    short   and  disastrous    war 
against  Napoleon  in  1805,  which  was  ended  by  the  humiliating 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    143 

Peace   of  Pressburg.      Now  they  lost,    and   that  too  to  their 
secular  enemy,  Bavaria,  which  was  the  ally  of  Napoleon,  not 
merely  the  Tyrol  (already  held  1342  to  1363  by  the  Bavarian 
second  husband  of  Margaret  Maultasch),  but  also  the  Vorarlberg, 
the  bishoprics  of  Trent  and  Brixen,  and  the  lordship  of  Rhiizuns 
in  the  Grisons.     The  one  gleam  of  light  was  the  annexation  of 
the  electorate  of  Salzburg  (which  Ferdinand  was  compelled  to 
give  up  for  the  newly  created  grand-duchy  of  Wiirzburg),  and 
that    meant    much,    for   it   included    the  upper   Zillerthal,   the 
Brixenthal,   and    the    territory    of  Berchtesgaden,  as   well   as 
Windisch  Matrei  and  the  Pinzgau,  all  regions  which  projected 
into    Tyrolese    territory   in   a   most   uncomfortable   way.      In 
1809-10,   however,   though    the    Habsburgers  lost  Salzburg  to 
Bavaria,  as  well  as  a  part  of  Carinthia  and  all  Carniola  to  the 
French  Empire  (which  added  them  to  other  districts  and  gave 
to  the  conglomeration  the  name  of  the  '  Illyrian  Provinces '), 
they  had  the  satisfaction   of  seeing  that  Bavaria  did  not  fare 
much  better,  for  she  lost  the  bishopric  of  Trent  and  a  bit  of 
that  of  Brixen  (up  to  Botzen)  to  the  Napoleonic  kingdom  of 
Italy,  as  well  as  Rhazuns  to  France  (it  came  to  the  Grisons  in 
1815).     But  after  the  fall  of  Napoleon  the  Habsburgers  regained 
(18 14-16)   almost    all    their    lost    dominions — the   Tyrol,    the 
Vorarlberg,  Salzburg,  (including  the  whole  of  the  Zillerthal),  the 
bishoprics   of  Trent  and  Brixen  (all    these   from  Bavaria)   as 
well  as  Carniola  and  Carinthia  (from  France).     One  odd  little 
loss  to  Austria  must,  however,  be  recorded.     By  some  accident, 
in  1 8 14,  the  Austrian   diplomatists,  when   drawing  up  the  list 
of  the  territories  which   Bavaria   was    to    hand   over   to   them, 
forgot   to   mention  the  district   of  Berchtesgaden   (which  had 
become  Bavarian  in  18 10);  it,  therefore,  remains  Bavarian  to 
this  day,  though  it  juts  awkwardly  into  Austrian  territory.     Such 
are  the  vagaries  of  historical   geography,  the  study  of  which 
clears  up  many  puzzling  territorial  arrangements,  which,  at  first 
sight,  seem  contrary  to   common-sense  and  to  any  theory  of 
'  natural  frontiers,' 


144     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 
(ii)  The  Bavarian  Highlands 

We  must  now  for  a  moment  turn  our  thoughts  backwards  in 
order  to  consider  briefly  the  fortunes  of  the  duchy  of  Bavaria, 
after,  in  976,  it  had  lost  successively  the  East  Mark,  the  North 
Mark,  and  the  South  Mark.     Its  dimensions  were  thus  much 
shrunken,  and  continued  to  shrink  as  the  power  of  the  Bishop 
of  Brixen  and  of  the  Archbishop  of  Salzburg  grew  and  increased, 
for  that  meant  the  loss   of  the  future   Tyrol   and   the   future 
Salzburg.     The  duchy  came  back  in  1002  to  the  German  king, 
who  kept  it  till  1061  in  his  own  hands  or  those  of  his  relations. 
But  in  1070  it  passed  to  the  Guelfs.     Henceforward  its  history 
was  much  disturbed  till  the  Emperor  in  1180  dethroned  Henry 
the  Lion,  and  gave  the  much   shrunken  duchy  to  one  of  his 
adherents.  Otto  of  Wittelsbach  (a  castle — destroyed  in  1209 — 
near  Aichach,  N.E.  of  Augsburg),  whose  descendants  reign  in 
Bavaria  to-day.     This  dynasty  restored  peace  to  the  country, 
and,    though    much  hampered   by   the  many  lines  into  which 
it  split  up,  gradually  won  back  much  of  the  territory  that  had 
been  lost.     It  little  by  little  gathered  in  the  lands  of  various 
noble  families  which  became  extinct,  in  particular  in  1248,  the 
wide  Bavarian  possessions  of  the  Counts  of  Andechs  (whose 
Tyrolese  fiefs  then  reverted  to  the  Bishop  of  Brixen).     In   1255 
we  first  hear  of  the  division  of  the  land  into  Upper  Bavaria 
(which  alone   concerns  us  here)  and  Lower  Bavaria,  the  last 
joined  to  the  Palatinate  of  the  Rhine.     By  the  early  fourteenth 
century  the  Dukes  of  Bavaria  of  the  new  line  had  extended 
their  limits  as  far  as  the  crest  of  the  mountain  chain  that  shuts 
in,  on  the  N.,  the  Inn  valley  between  Innsbruck  and  Landeck, 
but  they  did  not  yet  hold  the  entire  N.    slope  of  this  chain. 
The  highest  point  of  prosperity  was  reached  when  the  duke 
became,  under  the  name  of  Louis  iv.,  German   king  in  13 14 
and  Emperor  in  1328  (d.  1347),  for  not  merely  did  he  hold  his 
patrimony,  but  also  (from  1324  onwards)  the  North   Mark  (or 
Brandenburg,  lost  to  his  family  in  1373),  while  his  son  had  also 
the  Tyrol    (1342-1363)   as   the   second   husband   of  Margaret 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    145 

Maultasch.      But  in   1505   (formally  in    1507),  after  a  war  of 
succession,  Bavaria  had  to  give  up  to  the  Habsburgers  (as  we 
saw  above)  Kufstein,  Kitzbiihel,  Rattenberg,  and  the  Bavarian 
bit  of  the   Zillerthal — these    had   reverted   to  Bavaria   on  the 
death    of  Margaret    Maultasch   (1369),   but  were    never    held 
permanently  by  Bavaria  again,   this  loss  meaning  that  of  the 
right  bank  of  the  Inn  and  of  the  S.E.  bit  of  old  Bavaria.     Some 
consolation   was   afforded   by  the  elevation  of  Bavaria  to    an 
Electorate  in  1623,  a  dignity  then  taken  from  the  younger  or 
Palatinate  line  of  the  house.     In   1567  (1575)  the  lordship  of 
Hohenschwangau,  E.  of  Fiissen)  and  in   1734  that  of  Hohen- 
waldeck  (E.    of   the   Tegernsee)   were   acquired,    thus   further 
completing    and    strengthening    the   S.    or   Alpine  frontier    of 
Bavaria.     But  it  was    in    1803-5  that  Bavaria  made  large  pe7'- 
manent  additions  to  its  territory  (without  taking  count  of  the 
temporary   occupation   of  certain    districts,    mentioned    under 
the  section  relating  to  the  Habsburgers  in  the  Napoleonic  era). 
In   1803  it  acquired  the  secularised  bishopric  of  Freising  (in 
particular  the  county  of  Werdenfels,  which  included  Mittenwald, 
Partenkirchen,  etc.,  and  so  one  slope  of  the  Zugspitze),  and  also 
that  of  Augsburg  (this  meant  for  the  first  time  an  advance  to 
the  left  bank  of  the  Lech,  long  the  Bavarian  W.  frontier,  and  on 
past  Fiissen  and  Oberstdorf  to  the  right  bank  of  the   lUer).     In 
1805,  besides  a  royal  crown  (assumed  on  January  i,  1806)  and 
the  temporary  possession  of  the  Tyrol,  Vorarlberg,  etc.,  it  per- 
manently won  from  the  Habsburgers  the  county  of  Konigsegg- 
Rothenfels  (on  the  left  bank  of  the  Iller),  the  lordship  of  Hoheneck 
(with  Weiler),  just  W.  of  the  former,  and  the  old  Imperial  Free 
city  of  Lindau,  on  the  N.E.  shore  of  the  Lake  of  Constance, 
which  was  thus  reached  (though  scarcely  more  than  touched) 
after  many  years  of  effort.     (Let  us  note  in  passing  that  in  1805 
Bavaria  also  got  the  old  Imperial  Free  city  of  Buchhorn,  on  the 
N.E.  shore  of  the  lake  and  a  little  to  the  N.W.  of  Lindau  :  but 
in   1 8 10  it  had  to  give  it  up  to  Napoleon's  ally,  Wiirttemberg, 
whose  ruler  became  king,   like  his  neighbour    of  Bavaria,   on 
January  i,  1806,  and  rechristened  this  acquisition  in  his  own 
honour  as  '  Friedrichshafen  ').     These  acquisitions  rounded  off 

K 


146     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  Bavarian  frontier  towards  the  S.W.  and  the  Vorarlberg,  while 
the  retention  of  Berchtesgaden  and  its  territory  (got  from  the 
Habsburgers  in  1809,  but  not  restored  in  1814)  completed  the 
Bavarian  frontier  at  its  S.E.  corner. 

It  was  thus  in  1805  only  that  the  Watzmann  (8901  ft.)  became 
wholly  Bavarian,  and  in  1803  that  the  Zugspitze  (9738  ft.)  attained 
the  honour  of  being  (as  to  its  E.  slope  at  least)  Bavarian,  and  so 
now  the  loftiest  summit  within  the  German  Empire.  But  to  the 
S.W.  rises  the  higher  Parseierspitze  (9968  ft.),  which  is  wholly 
within  the  Tyrol  (therefore  Austrian),  while  the  other  two  loftiest 
peaks  in  the  N.  limestone  ranges,  the  Dachstein  (9830  ft.) 
and  the  Hochkonig  (9639  ft.),  rise  much  further  to  the  E.,  the 
latter  being  wholly  within  the  Salzburg  district,  while 
the  former  is  the  meeting-point  of  Upper  Austria,  Salzburg,  and 
Styria.  It  will  thus  be  seen  that  Bavaria,  and  so  '  Germany  ' 
as  distinguished  from  '  Austria,'  can  claim  but  part  of  one 
slope  of  the  outermost  and  lowest  limestone  range  of  the  Alps, 
so  that  the  plaintive  lament  of  the  German  writer,  quoted  in 
the  preceding  Chai)ter  (p.  60),  is  completely  justified,  and  even 
justifiable. 

Political  Peaks  (Eastern  Alps) 

At  the  end  of  the  corresponding  section  relating  to  the 
Central  Alps,  it  was  pointed  out  that  E.  of  the  Bernina  Pass 
the  physical  and  the  political  frontiers  are  all  but  utterly  distinct. 
This  phenomenon  appears  also  in  the  Eastern  Alps,  and  for  a 
similar  reason,  namely  the  annexation  to  the  possessions  of  the 
Habsburgers  (as  to  Switzerland  or  Italy  in  the  case  of  the  Central 
Alps)  of  lands  which  lie  to  the  N.  or  S.  of  the  great  '  divide '  of 
the  Alps.  Such  are  the  bishoprics  of  Trent  and  of  Brixen  (as  to 
its  S.  portion),  the  archbishopric  of  Salzburg  and  the  county  of 
Gorz  (as  regards  the  Pusterthal). 

Hence  from  the  Reschen  Scheideck  Pass  \h&  physical  frontier 
runs  along  the  crest  of  the  snowy  regions  of  the  Oetzthal, 
Stubaithal,  and  Zillerthal  ranges  ;  of  course,  the  whole  of  each  of 
these  groups  is  Austrian,  though  occasionally  shared  by  two  or 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    147 

more  provinces  of  that  Empire.  Some  of  the  higher  summits 
are  on  the  divide  itself,  so  the  Weisskugel  (12,291  ft.)  in  the 
Oetzthal  group,  and  the  Hochfeiler  (11,559  ft.)  in  the  Zillerthal 
Alps.  But  some  seem  to  take  pleasure  in  rising  a  little  way  to 
the  N.  or  to  the  S.  of  the  main  divide.  Thus  the  Wildspitze 
(12,382  ft.)  in  the  Oetzthal  Alps,  and  the  Zuckerhiitl  (11,520 
ft.)  in  the  Stubaithal  Alps,  each  being  the  loftiest  in  its  par- 
ticular region,  rise  N.  of  it. 

Some  geographers  consider  that  the  main  divide  of  the  Alps 
E.  of  the  Zillerthal  group  is  formed  by  the  Tauern  range,  which 
is  undoubtedly  the  loftiest  ridge.  Here,  too,  a  phenomenon 
similar  to  those  already  noted  occurs — of  its  higher  summits 
the  Dreiherrenspitze  (11,500  ft)  and  the  Gross  Venediger 
(12,008  ft.)  rise  on  the  divide  itself,  but,  further  E.,  the  Gross 
Glockner  (12,461  ft.)  stands  on  a  spur  to  its  S.,  while  the  Gross 
Wiesbachhorn  (11,713  ft.)  stands  on  a  spur  to  the  N.  of  the 
great  divide.  The  name  of  the  Dreiherrenspitze  comes  from 
the  fact  that  in  olden  days  the  boundaries  of  the  Tyrol,  Salzburg, 
and  Gorz  (the  Pusterthal  or  Carinthian  bit)  met  on  its  summit, 
while  the  Gross  Venediger  was  so  called  as  it  also  bordered  on 
the  county  of  Gorz  (inherited  by  the  Habsburgers  in  1500), 
which  occupies  a  portion  of  the  territory  formerly  held  by  the 
ancient  Veneti,  though  never  by  the  city  of  Venice. 

Other  geographers  hold  that  the  real  main  ridge  of  the  Alps 
follows  the  watershed.  From  the  Dreiherrenspitze  this  dips  S., 
passes  over  the  Hochgall  (11,287  ft.,  the  highest  point  of  the 
Rieserferner  group),  and  rejoins  the  political  frontier  a  little  N.E. 
of  the  Drei  Zinnen.  Thence  the  watershed  and  the  political  fron- 
tier continue  in  company  for  some  time,  the  Monte  Peralba  (8829 
ft),  in  the  Carnic  Alps,  rising  to  the  S.  of  the  main  ridge,  on 
which,  however,  are  the  two  highest  points  of  the  Carnic  Alps, 
the  Monte  Coglians  (9128  ft.)  and  the  Kellerwand  (9105  ft.)  as 
well  as  Monte  Canin  (8471  ft.)  in  the  Julie  Alps.  Near  the 
Predil  Pass  and  Monte  Canin  the  main  ridge  (leaving  the 
political  frontier)  bears  E.,  and  rises  in  the  Manhart  (8786  ft.)  and 
in  the  Terglou  (9400  ft),  the  culminating  point  of  the  S.E.  Alps 
in  general),  though  the  two  loftiest  summits  of  the  Karawankas 


148     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Alps,  the  Stou  (7346  ft.)  and  the  Grintouc  (8429  ft.),  are  on 
a  great  E.  spur.  But  the  political  frontier  (largely  conventional 
for  historical  reasons)  bears  S.  from  near  the  Predil  Pass  (N.E. 
of  Monte  Canin),  and  keeping  W.  of  Gorz,  reaches  the  shores  of 
the  Hadriatic  a  little  to  the  W.  of  Aquileia. 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  the  physical  frontier  leaves  to  the  S. 
the  whole  of  the  Ortler,  Adamello,  and  Dolomite  Alps,  and  this 
for  the  historical  reasons  given  above — these  groups  rise  in  the 
Brixen,  Trentino,  or  Venetian  districts.  Of  course  the  political 
frontier  also  follows  (roughly  speaking)  a  watershed,  that,  namely, 
which  from  the  Stelvio  runs  S.  to  the  head  of  the  Lake  of  Garda ; 
this  frontier  then  makes  a  great  circle  to  the  N,E.,  E.,  and  S.E. 
(to  the  S.  are  the  Bellunese  and  Friuli,  both  now  Italian  and  not 
Austrian),  till  it  passes  E.  of  Cividale  and  W.  of  Gorz,  before 
reaching  the  coast  of  the  Hadriatic  just  W,  of  Aquileia.  But 
we  find  that  the  highest  summits  often  do  not  rise  even  on  this 
secondary  watershed  (so  to  call  it).  In  the  Ortler  group,  the 
Konigsspitze  (12,655  f^-)  ^'^^  the  Monte  Cividale  (12,382 
ft.)  do  rise  on  it,  and  so  are  half  Tyrolese  and  half  Italian 
(in  the  county  of  Bormio,  so  were  half  Swiss  or  in  the  Grisons, 
151 2-1 797),  but  the  Ortler  itself  (12,802  ft.) — the  loftiest  summit 
in  the  Tyrol  and  so  in  the  Eastern  Alps — is  a  little  to  the  N., 
and  so  is  wholly  Tyrolese.  In  the  Adamello  group,  the 
Adamello  (11,661  ft.)  itself  is  W.  of  the  political  frontier,  and 
so  is  wholly  Italian  and  Bergamasque  (therefore  Venetian  from 
1428  to  1797),  while  the  Presanella  (i  1,694  ft.)  and  the  Care 
Alto  (11,369  ft.)  are  to  the  E.  of  the  political  frontier,  and 
so  are  wholly  within  the  Austrian  Trentino,  as  are  also  the 
Brenta  Dolomites  (culminating  in  the  Cima  Tosa,  10,420  ft.), 
still  farther  to  the  E.  Among  the  Dolomites  the  glorious  rock 
needles  of  the  Rosengarten  (which  culminate  in  the  Kesselkogel, 
9846  ft.),  the  Langkofel  (10,427  ft.),  and  the  other  Grodnerthal 
peaks  are  to  the  W.  of  the  political  frontier,  and  so  are 
now  wholly  Tyrolese,  as  formerly  included  in  the  territory  of  the 
Bishop  of  Trent.  The  Pala  di  San  Martino  (9831  ft.)  is  by 
a  curious  freak  wholly  Austrian  (since  1373,  like  the  Primiero 
valley),  but    the    Sass   Maor  (9239  ft.),   the  Cima  di   Vezzana 


THE  POLITICAL  HISTORY  OF  THE  ALPS    149 

(10,470  ft.) — the  Cimone  della  Pala,  10,453  ft.,  rises  on  a  N.W, 
spur,  and  so  is  wholly  Austrian — and  the  Marmolata  (11,024 
ft),  the  highest  of  all  Dolomites,  are  on  the  political  frontier, 
and  so  half  in  the  Tyrol,  and  half  in  the  Bellunese  (now 
Italian,  but  formerly  Venetian).  On  the  other  hand,  the  Monte 
Civetta  (10,564  ft.)  and  the  Pelmo  (10,397  ft.)  rise  to  the 
E.  of  the  political  frontier,  and  so  are  wholly  in  Italy  {i.e. 
in  the  Bellunese).  Of  the  Cortina  Dolomites  the  Antelao 
(10,706  ft.)  is  S.  of  the  frontier,  in  the  Bellunese,  and  so  wholly 
Italian,  while  the  Tofana  (10,633  ft.)  is  W,  of  the  frontier, 
and  so  wholly  Tyrolese.  But  the  Sorapiss  (10,594  ft.),  Monte 
Cristallo  (10,496  ft.),  and  the  Drei  Zinnen  (9853  ft.)  are  all 
on  the  political  frontier,  and  so  are  half  Tyrolese  (since  15 17) 
and  half  in  the  Bellunese  (and  so  were  half  Venetian  from  1404 
till  1797).  Farther  E.,  the  Monte  Peralba  (8829  ft.)  is  S.  of 
the  main  watershed,  and  so  wholly  Italian,  though  as  it  rises  to 
the  W.  of  the  frontier  between  the  Bellunese  and  Friuli,  it  is 
entirely  in  the  former  district.  But  Monte  Coglians  (9128  ft.) 
and  the  Kellerwand  (9105  ft.)  rise  on  the  political  frontier  be- 
tween Austrian  Carinthia  and  Italian  Friuli.  Monte  Canin  (8471 
ft.),  too,  rises  on  the  political  frontier  between  Italian  Friuli  and 
the  Austrian  county  of  Gorz.  But  the  Manhart  (8786  ft.)  and 
the  Terglou  (9400  ft.)  are  wholly  Austrian  (rising  on  the  frontier 
between  Carniola,  E.,  and  the  county  of  Gorz,  W.),  as  are  the 
Stou  (7346  ft.)  and  the  Grintouc  (8429  ft.),  which  are  on  the 
frontier  between  Carinthia,  N.,  and  Carniola,  S.,  the  E.  flank 
of  the  last  named  being  claimed  by  Styria. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

THE    GREAT    HISTORICAL    PASSES    OF    THE    ALPS 

THE  Alps  form  a  mighty  barrier  between  Italy  and  the 
outer  world.  But  this  barrier  can  be  either  turned  at  its 
W.  or  E.  extremity  (this  was  the  course  probably  taken  by  the 
earliest  barbarian  invaders)  or  boldly  forced  at  one  or  the  other 
point.  It  is  with  the  latter  method  that  we  are  here  concerned. 
Now  it  is  an  altogether  erroneous  idea  to  imagine  that  a  moun- 
tain ridge  (whether  it  be  the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps  or  a 
secondary  range)  always  separates  in  a  very  marked  degree  the 
inhabitants  living  on  one  slope  from  those  living  on  the  other. 
To  hurried  travellers  from  the  plains  this  may  seem  to  be  the 
case.  But  history  teaches  us  that  passes  rather  bring  together 
the  regions  situated  on  their  opposite  slopes,  so  that  often  these 
are  linked  together  by  far  closer  bonds  than  with  other  districts 
towards  which  they  might  seem  to  be  naturally  attracted  by 
reason  of  easier  communications.  Instances  of  this  are  afforded 
by  the  Mont  Genevre,  which  joined  under  one  ruler  (the 
Dauphin  of  the  Viennois,  later  the  king  of  France)  the  valleys 
lying  to  its  E.  and  to  its  W.,  and  that  till  1713  ;  or  the  Great  St. 
Bernard,  by  means  of  which  the  valley  of  Aosta  was  long  con- 
nected with  Burgundy  to  the  N.,  rather  than  with  Italy  to  the 
S. ;  or  the  St.  Gotthard,  which  unites  the  Swiss  Cantons  of  Uri 
and  Tessin  with  each  other ;  or  the  Brenner,  that  has  greatly 
helped  to  create  the  Tyrol,  which  sits  astride  of  this  mountain 
ridge.  No  doubt  it  is  true  that  in  some  cases  mountain  passes 
have  afforded  to  the  men  on  one  slope  the  chance  of  conquering 
and  subjugating  those  on  the  other.  But  our  point  is  rather 
that,  given  an  original  conquest  or  emigration  or  what  not,  dis- 

160 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       151 

tricts  which  are  physically  separated  by  a  more  or  less  lofty 
mountain  ridge  have,  later  on,  frequently  shared  the  same  his- 
torical fortunes,  and  even  now  are  joined  together  under  the 
same  ruler.  In  fact,  one  is  almost  tempted  to  venture  on  the 
paiadox  that  mountain  ranges  unite  rather  than  divide,  while  a 
physical  obstacle  in  a  valley  will  prove  far  more  potent  by  cutting 
off  the  lower  from  the  higher  portion  (witness  such  cases  as  the 
Chisone  valley,  the  Val  de  Bagnes,  the  Avers  valley,  the  upper 
Inn  valley,  the  composite  valley  known  as  the  Pusterthal,  and  so 
on).  Of  course,  like  all  paradoxes,  the  one  we  have  put  forth  is 
not  universally  true.  But  it  is  true  in  a  sufficiently  large  number 
of  cases  to  justify  us  in  throwing  it  at  the  heads  of  our  readers, 
for  the  end  and  object  of  a  paradox  is  first  to  startle,  then  to 
induce  a  more  careful  examination  of  the  subject  in  hand,  and 
so  to  bring  out  new  aspects  of  the  matter,  or  to  throw  fresh  light 
on  well-known  facts. 

It  is  a  well-ascertained  fact  that  with  the  single  exception  of 
the  Septimer  (with  which  the  Spliigen  was  often  confounded 
in  the  pages  of  older  writers)  no  pass  in  the  Central  Alps 
(that  is,  between  the  Simplon  and  the  Reschen  Scheideck) 
across  the  main  watershed  was  known,  or  at  any  rate  frequented, 
till  the  early  Middle  Ages.  In  short,  the  Central  Alps  were  not 
opened  towards  Italy  till  a  comparatively  recent  date,  though 
now  one  need  only  think  of  the  St.  Gotthard  to  realise  how  com- 
pletely things  have  altered  in  this  respect.  Further,  as  between 
the  passes  in  the  Western  Alps  (Col  de  Tenda  to  the  Simplon) 
and  those  in  the  Eastern  Alps  (Reschen  Scheideck  to  the  Predil 
and  the  Radstadter  Tauern)  there  were  several  marked  points  of 
difference.  One  is  that  in  the  Western  Alps  there  was  a  great 
river-valley  (that  of  the  Rhone)  with  several  branches  (for 
instance  the  Durance  and  the  Isere)  which  afforded  easy  access 
from  the  Mediterranean  (which  is  almost  touched  by  the  Mari- 
time Alps)  to  the  valleys  of  the  W.  slope  of  the  Alps,  and  thus 
caused  them  to  lie  open  to  attack  or  to  occupation  by  the  first 
comer  who  profited  by  this  great  natural  highway.  But  in  the 
Eastern  Alps  no  river  flows  down  towards  the  Hadriatic,  save 
the  Adige,  which  is  there  the  counterpart  of  the  Rhone:  the 


152     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

other  rivers  flow  away  eastwards  (think  of  the  Inn,  the  Drave, 
and  the  Save),  and  being  separated  from  the  sea  by  several 
ranges,  cannot  be  used  as  highways  from  the  sea  to  the  valleys 
on  the  E.  slope  of  the  Alps  as  is  the  case  with  that  of  the  Rhone. 
A  second  point  of  difference  between  the  Western  and  Eastern 
ends  of  the  Alps  is  that  the  latter  was  for  centuries  a  border- 
land or  '  march '  towards,  at  varying  dates,  the  strange  tribes  of 
the  Magyars,  the  Slavonians,  and  the  Turks,  and  therefore,  like 
all  frontier  lands,  was  unsettled,  exposed  to  incursions,  and  not 
attractive  to  peaceful  dwellers,  ready  and  able  to  cultivate  and 
to  civiHse  it.  How  far  different  was  the  case  in  the  Western 
Alps,  where  the  rich  and  well-cultivated  plains  of  Gaul,  teeming 
with  Roman  civilisation,  seemed  to  invite  attack,  while  there  were 
secure,  uninterrupted,  and  peaceful  communications  with  Italy. 
Once  again  it  is  noteworthy  that  at  the  W.  end  of  the  Alpine 
chain  the  main  watershed  consists  of  one  ridge  and  so  is  easily 
crossed.  At  the  E.  end  of  the  Alpine  chain,  however,  two  or 
even  three  ridges  (spreading  out  like  the  sticks  of  a  fan)  have  to 
be  crossed  before  the  journey  from  the  plains  on  the  N.  to  those 
on  the  S.  is  completed.  For  instance,  by  means  of  the  Mont 
Genevre,  the  Mont  Cenis,  or  either  of  the  St.  Bernards,  the 
crossing  of  a  single  pass  led  from  Gaul  to  Italy.  But  in  the 
Eastern  Alps  the  medieeval  highway  from  Augsburg  to  Milan 
crossed  successively  three  ranges  by  the  Fern,  the  Reschen 
Scheideck,  and  the  Umbrail  Passes,  while  the  route  from  Salz- 
burg to  Venice  had  similarly  to  traverse  the  Lueg  gorge,  the 
Radstadter  Tauern,  and  then  either  the  Ampezzo,  the  Plocken, 
the  Predil,  or  the  Pontebba  (Saifnitz)  Passes.  Nowadays,  for 
political  considerations,  the  great  railway  line  from  Vienna  to 
Trieste  is  carried  under  four  ranges  by  as  many  tunnels — beneath 
the  Pyhrn  and  the  Hohe  Tauern  Passes,  next  piercing  the  Kara- 
wankas  Alps,  and  finally  the  Julie  Alps  by  the  Wochein  tunnel. 
One  reason,  no  doubt,  for  the  fact  of  such  complicated  routes  in 
the  Eastern  Alps  has  been  already  pointed  out — the  rivers  there 
flow  eastwards  and  not  southwards,  so  that  instead  of  simply 
mounting  a  single  valley  to  the  pass  at  its  head,  it  was  necessary 
to  cross  three  roughly  parallel  ridges,  thus  descending  into  may- 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       153 

hap  deep-cut  river  beds,  and  twice  reascending  out  of  them, 
this  course  rendering  the  traverse  of  this  portion  of  the  Alps  very 
toilsome,  even  though  the  passes  themselves  may  be  easier  and 
lower  than  at  the  W.  end  of  the  Alpine  chain.  Yet  there  were 
also  drawbacks  in  the  Western  Alps.  If  the  main  watershed 
consisted  of  but  one  ridge  it  was  often  necessary  (if  one  came 
from  the  W.)  to  cross  a  second  in  order  to  reach  the  foot  of  the 
former,  if  one  desired  to  avoid  a  great  detour  by  following  a  long 
and  winding  river-valley  in  all  its  length.  For  instance,  in  order 
to  reach  the  W.  foot  of  either  the  Col  de  I'Argentiere  or  the 
Mont  Genevre  direct  from  the  Rhone  valley,  it  is  necessary  to 
cross  a  second  pass  (whether  near  Gap  or  by  the  Col  du 
Lautaret)  to  gain  the  Durance  valley,  whence  both  passes  lead 
to  Italy.  Herein  an  enormous  advantage  lay  with  other  passes 
to  which  a  single  valley  led  up  straight  from  the  plains  on  the 
W.,  and  hence  the  mediaeval  Mont  Cenis  finally  beat  the  Roman 
Mont  Genevre  out  of  the  field.  So,  too,  the  Roman  Great  St. 
Bernard  beat  the  mediseval  Simplon  (till  the  latter  got  a  high- 
road made  over  it).  Similarly,  in  the  Central  Alps  the  St.  Gott- 
hard  and  the  Septimer  became  the  great  highways  when  the 
Alps  were  better  known,  the  journey  over  the  neighbouring 
passes,  such  as  the  Lukmanier,  the  San  Bernardino,  the  Julier- 
Maloja,  etc.,  involving  far  more  labour  and  time.  In  the 
Eastern  Alps  the  Brenner  enjoys  a  similar  advantage  over  its 
neighbours. 

The  political  importance  which  attached  to  the  possession  of 
Alpine  passes  is  so  obvious  that  we  need  not  dwell  upon  it  at 
length.  The  long  struggle  for  the  Valtelline  (or  upper  valley  of 
the  Adda)  between  1620  and  1639  shows  this,  for  by  it  the 
Milanese  and  Imperial  lines  of  the  House  of  Habsburg  could 
communicate  and  help  each  other,  while  the  object  of  their 
enemies  (whether  French  or  Swiss)  was  to  block  this  highway. 
So,  too.  Napoleon,  '  that  great  master  of  practical  geography,'  as 
Mr.  Ball  calls  him,  took  very  good  care  to  secure  his  hold  on  the 
Vallais,  and  thus  on  the  Great  St.  Bernard  and  Simplon  Passes 
— from  1802  to  1 8 10  it  was  formed  into  a  Rhodanic  Republic, 
quite  distinct  from  the  Helvetic  Republic  (of  which  it  formed 


154     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

part  from  1798  to  1802),  while  from  1810  to  1814  it  was  simply 
the  '  Departement  du  Simplon  '  of  the  French  Empire.  A  much 
earlier  case  of  the  importance  attached  to  the  holding  of  the 
passes  over  the  Alps  is  afforded  by  the  special  care  as  to  this 
point  shown  by  Charles  the  Great  when  elaborating  a  scheme 
(never  carried  out,  owing  to  the  death  of  two  of  the  intended 
beneficiaries)  for  the  division  of  his  Empire  (which,  as  we  have 
before  pointed  out,  included  the  entire  chain  of  the  Alps)  among 
his  three  sons  in  806.  The  eldest  son,  Charles  (d.  811)  was  to 
receive  on  his  father's  death  the  old  Frankish  realm  ;  Pippin,  the 
second  son  (d.  810),  Italy,  Bavaria,  and  Raetia;  and  the  youngest 
son,  Louis  (who  alone  survived  his  father,  and  is  known  in  history 
as  Louis  the  Pious),  was  to  have  what  corresponds  to  E.  and  S. 
France  (including  Savoy).  The  Empire  being  thus  partitioned 
out,  Charles  continues  :  '  This  division  is  so  arranged  that  Charles 
and  Louis  may  have  a  route  into  Italy  open  to  them  so  as  to 
assist  their  brother,  if  occasion  arise,  Charles  through  the  valley 
of  Aosta,  which  belongs  to  his  kingdom,  and  Louis  through  the 
valley  of  Susa,  while  Pippin  is  to  have  his  going  out  and  his 
coming  in  through  the  Noric  Alps  and  past  Coire.'  It  will  be 
seen  that  the  lands  received  by  each  son  were  so  disposed  as  to 
allow  of  the  command  of  the  several  passes  named — Charles 
had  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  and  Louis  the  Mont  Genevre  and 
the  Mont  Cenis,  while  Pippin  held  the  later  Tyrol,  and  also  the 
route  past  Coire,  the  Brenner  and  Septimer  Passes  being  here 
meant. 

The  enumeration  of  the  Alpine  passes  thus  secured  by  Charles 
the  Great  to  his  heirs  is  not  merely  interesting  as  showing  us  which 
were  then  the  most  frequented,  but  also  because  none  of  these 
passes  is  described  by  any  special  name,  the  route  being  indicated 
simply  by  stating  the  valley  or  the  region  of  the  Alps  through 
which  it  passed,  or  the  important  Alpine  city  which  was  neces- 
sarily visited  in  the  course  of  the  journey.  In  fact,  the  modern 
practice  of  attributing  special  names  to  Alpine  passes  does  not 
come  in  vogue  till  the  early  Middle  Ages.  Hence  in  trying  to 
trace  out,  say,  the  journey  of  an  Emperor  or  great  ecclesiastic 
across  the  Alps,  we  have  to  note  the  towns  by  which  he  passed 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       155 

and  the  valleys  which  he  traversed.  There  are  very  few  excep- 
tions to  this  general  rule,  which  obtains  to  some  extent  even  in 
the  early  Middle  Ages,  so  that  considerable  patience  has  to  be 
exercised  in  this  matter.  As  we  should  expect,  it  is  the  more 
westerly  passes  from  Italy  to  Transalpine  Gaul  which  are  first 
mentioned  by  special  names,  e.g.  the  Mont  Genevre,  the  Mont 
Cenis,  and  the  two  St.  Bernards.  These  were  'through  routes,' 
and  so  had  to  be  distinguished  from  the  minor  highways.  Only 
fugitives  and  very  cunning  military  commanders,  for  similar 
reasons  of  secrecy,  used  these  side  tracks.  It  is  remarkable 
how  many  of  the  old  Roman  and  mediaeval  passes  still  retain 
their  predominance  in  modern  times,  even  though,  i?iter  se,  the 
popularity  of  one  may  decline,  or  that  of  another  may  increase — 
in  short,  there  are  'fashions '  in  Alpine  passes,  as  well  as  in  most 
other  matters  pertaining  to  mankind. 

Before  entering  on  an  account  (which  must  be  brief,  as  be- 
fits our  limits)  of  the  chief  Alpine  passes,  we  must  lay  down 
some  rule  or  principle  by  which  to  distinguish  a  '  great  historical 
pass '  from  a  minor  one.  This  is  not  so  easy  a  task  as  it  seems 
to  be  at  first  sight.  Obviously  we  must  place  in  the  forefront 
the  principal  passes  across  the  ffiain  divide  of  the  Alps,  those, 
in  other  words,  which  connect  the  outer  world  with  fair  Italy. 
But  since  to  the  epithet '  great '  we  have  added  that  of  '  historical,' 
it  follows  that  in  these  pages  it  is  the  historical  part  played  by 
any  pass,  and  not  merely  its  topographical  features  (directness, 
easiness,  lowness),  which  must  guide  us  in  making  our  selection — 
whether  the  historical  importance  of  the  pass  be  due  to  military, 
to  commercial,  to  economical,  or  to  political  reasons.  This 
qualification  of  'historical'  implies  further  that  we  cannot,  as 
some  writers  urge,  leave  wholly  out  of  sight  those  passes  which 
do  not  traverse  the  main  divide  of  the  Alps,  but  cross  its  lateral 
ridges.  The  international  importance  of  these  passes  may  not 
be  so  great  as  in  the  case  of  the  former  class,  but  their  historical 
importance  (particularly  in  the  case  of  shiftings  of  the  popula- 
tion, etc.)  may  be  even  greater.  Hence  we  propose  to  include 
both  classes  in  the  following  brief  survey,  though,  of  course,  it  is 
impossible  to  enumerate  all  the  passes  which  have  played  a 


156     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

part  in  purely  local  history.  Our  choice  has  been  based  on 
a  very  wide  and  detailed  personal  knowledge  of  both  classes 
of  passes  (though  less  detailed  in  the  Eastern  Alps  than  in 
the  two  other  divisions  of  the  chain),  and  it  is  hoped  that  no 
really  'historical  pass'  has  been  omitted.  But,  of  course,  the 
passes  over  the  main  divide  will  claim  most  of  our  attention, 
the  others  having  to  be  content  with  a  more  or  less  cursory 
mention. 

As  we  have  indicated  elsewhere,  the  knowledge  of  the  Alpine 
passes  possessed  by  the  Romans  has,  in  in  our  opinion,  been 
vastly  exaggerated.  That  practical  race  did  not  stop  to  admire 
the  beauties  of  nature,  but  faced  the  horrors  of  the  mountains 
for  purely  business  reasons — military,  administrative,  or  com- 
mercial :  it  was  only  after  the  spread  of  Christianity  that  pilgrims 
and  ecclesiastics  swelled  the  throng  of  travellers  over  the  Alps, 
on  their  way  to  or  from  the  '  threshold  of  the  Apostles,'  Rome, 
the  true  centre  of  Western  civilisation  in  all  respects.  Still,  as 
it  is  mainly  from  Roman  writers  (with  an  occasional  Greek 
geographer,  like  Strabo)  that  we  owe  our  first  more  or  less 
detailed  knowledge  (however  imperfect)  of  the  Alpine  passes, 
it  is  best  to  consider  which  passes  are  actually  mentioned  by 
them  or  in  the  Itineraries,  or  in  surviving  inscriptions.  We 
exclude  in  each  case  the  so-called  pass  by  the  Maritime  Alps, 
which  is  simply  the  way  along  the  shore  of  the  Mediterranean 
from  Genoa  to  Marseilles,  traversing  one  of  the  last  spurs 
(1490  ft.)  of  the  Alps  at  Turbie,  above  Monaco,  and  is  not  a 
pass  in  the  modern  sense  of  the  term,  though  it  does  cross  the 
main  divide  of  the  Alps  that  runs  S.  from  the  Mont  Clapier. 
Materials  fail  for  tracing  out  the  gradual  spread  of  the  know- 
ledge of  the  Alpine  passes,  a  subject  which  would  be  most 
interesting,  if  only  it  were  possible  to  treat  it  adequately. 

Strabo  (first  century  a.d.)  reports  that  Polybios  (second 
century  B.C.) — the  passage  has  been  preserved  to  us  by  Strabo 
only — enumerated  (besides  the  pass  through  the  country  of 
the  Ligurians,  i.e.  the  Turbie  route)  three  passes  across  the 
Alps— first  that  through  the  country  of  the  Taurini,  'which 
was  crossed  by  Hannibal,'  then  that  through  the  country  of 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       157 

the  Salassi,  and  finally  that  through  the  country  of  the  R^eti. 
These  routes  seem  to  be  the  Mont  Genevre  {not  the  Mont 
Cenis,  for  reasons  to  be  mentioned  presently),  the  Great  (though 
possibly  the  Little)  St.  Bernard,  and  the  Brenner.  Servius 
(early  fifth  century  a.d.)  commenting  on  a  passage  of  Virgil's 
yEtieid  (book  x.  line  13),  quotes  the  statement  (preserved  to  us 
only  by  this  citation)  of  Varro  (first  century  B.C.)  that  in  the 
Alps  of  Gaul  {i.e.,  roughly  speaking,  the  Western  Alps  of  this 
work)  there  were  five  passes  known  to  him,  one  being  that 
through  the  country  of  the  Ligurians— the  others  are  described 
with  a  precise  though  tantalising  vagueness  as  that  which  Hanni- 
bal crossed,  that  which  was  traversed  by  Pompey  on  his  way  to 
the  war  in  Spain,  that  by  which  Hasdrubal  came  from  Gaul 
to  Italy,  and  finally  that  through  the  Graian  Alps.  The  last 
named  is  clearly  the  Little  St.  Bernard,  while  the  rest,  though 
clearly  all  in  the  Western  Alps,  have  been  the  subject  of  many 
discussions.  It  is  not  our  intention  to  enter  here  on  the  much- 
vexed  question  of  the  pass  which  was  crossed  by  Hannibal 
when  he  entered  Italy  in  B.C.  218,  that  event  for  the  first  time 
bringing  it  home  to  the  Romans  that  the  barrier  of  the  Alps 
was  not  as  impassable  as  they  had  fondly  believed  it  to  be. 
But  the  present  writer  may  be  allowed  to  state  that  he  is  very 
strongly  in  favour  of  the  Mont  Genevre.  No  doubt  there  are 
contradictions  and  discrepancies  in  the  accounts  of  this  famous 
passage  which  have  been  handed  down  to  us  by  Polybios  and 
by  Livy.  But  the  present  writer  has  himself  either  crossed,  or 
in  a  few  cases  reached  the  summit  of  (that  is,  ascended  one 
slope  only)  every  pass  in  the  Alps,  high  or  low,  which  has  ever 
been  claimed  by  even  the  wildest  writer  (and  there  are  many 
of  them)  as  being  possibly  that  of  Hannibal,  and  his  conviction 
has  been  confirmed  more  and  more  that  the  Mont  Genevre  was 
in  all  probability  the  pass.  In  any  case,  he  is  of  opinion  that 
its  only  really  serious  rival  is  the  Little  St.  Bernard,  the  other 
passes  which  have  been  brought  forward  all  failing  in  some 
important  respect  to  meet  the  requirements  of  the  case.  It 
should,  however,  be  always  borne  in  mind  that  all  these  accounts 
we  have  of  passes  across  the  Alps  are  second-hand — Strabo  and 


158     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Servius  may  easily  have  misquoted  or  misunderstood  the  authors 
they  cite,  while  Hannibal's  march  is  known  to  us  only  by  the 
reports  given  by  the  Romans,  and  not  (unfortunately)  from 
Carthaginian  sources. 

Let  us  now  turn  to  the  '  Itineraries,'  which  date  from  the 
fourth  century  a.d.,  and  so  from  near  the  end  of  the  rule  of 
the  Romans,  and  a  little  while  before  the  arrival  of  the  '  bar- 
barians.' Of  these,  that  known  as  the  Antonine  Linerary  is 
the  most  important,  while  the  Jerusalem  Itinerary  mentions 
but  two  passes  on  the  way  from  Bordeaux  to  Jerusalem,  but 
that  called  the  '  Peutinger  Table '  (a  thirteenth  century  copy  of 
a  fourth  century  original)  is  very  useful  in  its  way,  though  it  is 
pictorial  rather  than  a  mere  dry  list  of  '  stations '  like  the  two 
others.  Now  (always  excluding  the  route  by  the  '  Maritime  Alps  ') 
we  find  that  the  Mont  Genevre  (which  is  the  first  pass  indicated 
by  the  Jerusalem  Itinerary)  is  mentioned  both  by  the  Antonine 
Itinerary  and  the  Peutinger  Table.  Both  also  mention  the 
Little  and  the  Great  St.  Bernard  (not  by  their  present  names, 
of  course),  possibly  the  Spliigen,  certainly  the  Septimer,  and 
the  Brenner,  as  well  as  two  low  passes  on  the  extreme  E. 
limit  of  the  Alps,  the  Birnbaumer  Wald  (also  mentioned  by 
the  Jerusalem  Itinerary),  from  Laibach  to  Gorz,  and  the  Pyhrn 
Pass,  from  Liezen  (Enns  valley)  to  Linz.  The  Antonine 
Itinerary  alone  indicates  the  routes  over  the  Monte  Croce 
(Plocken)  Pass  and  the  Saifnitz  (Pontebba)  Pass,  across  the 
most  southerly  of  the  three  ranges  at  the  E.  end  of  the  Eastern 
Alps,  while  the  Peutinger  Table  alone  mentions  that  of  the 
Radstiidter  Tauern,  across  the  central  of  the  above-mentioned 
three  ranges.  These  are  all  the  passes  which  are  actually 
mentioned  in  the  Itineraries,  and  which  therefore  were  certainly 
known  to  the  Romans  in  the  fourth  century  a.d.,  while  the  mile- 
stones found  on  the  Radstiidter  Tauern  route  have  inscrip- 
tions mentioning  Septimius  Severus  and  Caracalla  (early  third 
century).  Claims  have  been  made  for  other  passes  on  the 
ground  of  monuments,  inscriptions,  milestones,  finds  of  Roman 
coins  {e.g.  the  St.  Theodule  and  the  Julier),  etc.  But  though 
passes  other  than  those  mentioned  expressly  in  the  Itineraries 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       159 

were  (it  is  highly  probable)  known  to  the  Romans  and  certainly 
to  the  inhabitants,  it  is,  in  the  opinion  of  the  present  writer, 
impossible  to  say  definitely  that,  in  addition  to  those  already 
enumerated,  any  other  passes  were  known  to  the  Romans  than 
the  Col  de  I'Argentiere  (in  the  Western  Alps)  and  the  Jaufen 
Pass,  as  well  as  the  Solkscharte  and  other  passes  over  the 
Tauern  range  (in  the  Eastern  Alps).  As  stated  previously,  the 
Central  Alps  were  (save  in  the  case  of  the  Septimer,  and  possibly 
of  the  Splugen)  only  opened  by  passes  in  the  Middle  Ages. 

Of  course,  the  names  actually  borne  by  the  Alpine  passes  are 
modern.  But  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  in  a  few  cases  names 
are  given  to  passes  in  the  Itineraries,  this  fact  probably  showing 
that  these  were  the  most  frequented  routes.  Thus  the  Mont 
Genevre  (which  was  the  great  Alpine  pass  known  in  antiquity) 
is  called  'Alpes  Cottise'  or  'Alpis  Cottia'  by  the  Antonine 
Itinerary  and  Peutinger  Table  respectively,  while  the  Jerusalem 
Itinerary  adds  the  name  of  '  Matrona.'  Both  the  Antonine 
Itinerary  and  the  Peutinger  Table  call  the  Little  St.  Bernard 
'Alpes  Graige'  or  the  'Alpis  Graia,'  and  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
'  Alpes  Penninae '  or  the  '  Summus  Penninus.'  This  agrees 
with  the  view  that  the  passes  across  the  Western  Alps  were 
by  far  the  most  important  in  antiquity.  The  Antonine 
Itinerary  attributes  no  names  to  any  of  the  other  passes  it 
indicates.  But  the  Peutinger  Table  gives  the  singular  and 
hitherto  unexplained  appellation  of  '  Cunu  aureu '  apparently 
to  the  Spliigen,  while  it  calls  the  Birnbaumer  Wald  the 
'  Alpis  Julia,'  the  Jerusalem  Itinerary  preferring  the  form  of 
'Julife.' 

After  these  general  considerations  as  to  the  Alpine  passes 
known  of  old,  we  must  go  on  to  speak  more  in  detail  of  those 
which  were  frequented  (by  the  Emperors  on  their  way  to  Rome, 
or  by  pilgrims  or  by  armies  or  by  students  or  by  merchants)  in 
the  Middle  Ages  and  in  still  more  recent  times.  It  seems  most 
convenient  to  enumerate  these  passes  under  the  heads  of  the 
Western,  the  Central,  and  the  Eastern  Alps,  briefly  (for  our  limits 
forbid  more)  pointing  out  the  chief  historical  characteristics  of 
each,  and  recalling  by  the  way  the  minor  passes  across  the  main 


i6o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

divide,  and  the  principal  routes  over  lateral  ridges.  By  a 
curious  irony  of  fate  the  very  first  of  our  '  Great  Passes,'  the 
Col  de  Tenda,  crosses,  strictly  speaking,  a  lateral  ridge,  for  the 
main  divide  of  the  Alps  dips  S.  at  the  Mont  Clapier,  a  little  to 
its  W.,  and  runs  down  to  the  Turbie  spur.  It  need  hardly  be 
pointed  out  that  the  routes  from  all  these  passes  converge  in 
Italy  towards  one  of  the  great  cities  of  Turin,  Milan,  and  Venice, 
which  (roughly  speaking)  form  the  goal  respectively  of  the  passes 
from  the  Western,  the  Central,  and  the  Eastern  Alps. 

I. — The  Western  Alps 

In  this  region  we  may  reckon  about  eight  great  historical 
passes  (Tenda,  Argentiere,  Mont  Genevre,  the  Mont  Cenis,  the 
two  St.  Bernards,  the  Antrona  Pass,  and  the  Simplon),  which 
we  must  now  briefly  notice  in  topographical  order,  intercalating 
a  few  minor  passes  which  seem  to  deserve  a  mention. 

The    most   southerly   of    these    passes,    the    Col  de    Tenda 
(6145  ft.),  leading  from  Cuneo  past  Tenda  to  Ventimiglia,  has 
always  been  chiefly  useful  to  the  local  lords  (first  the  Counts 
of  Tenda,   then    the  Angevin  Counts   of  Provence,   and  from 
1575  onwards  the  House  of  Savoy)  who  have  ruled  over  the 
regions   on    either   slope,    which    are    linked    together    by   it. 
Crossed  in  906  by  the  Saracens  of  La  Garde  Freinet  on  their 
way  to  ravage  the  region  of  Cuneo,  it  comes  into  importance 
mainly   after    1388  when   the   county   of  Nice   passed   to  the 
House  of  Savoy,  the  heads  of  which  used  it  as  their  shortest 
route  from  one  part  of  their  dominions  to  another.     The  town 
of  Nice   can,    however,   only  be   reached   by  this   route   after 
crossing  two  minor  passes,  for  the  direct  route  from  the  pass 
runs  down  the  valley  of  the  Roja  to  Ventimiglia.     A  carriage 
road  was  constructed  across  it,    1 779-1 782,  though  the  tunnel 
beneath  the  crest  of  the  pass,  commenced  by  the  Dukes  of 
Savoy  in  the  early  eighteenth  century,  was  only  completed  in 
1882.     But,    owing   to   the    French   'enclave'   of  Saorge,   etc. 
(see   Chapter  vi.),    the   projected   railway   line  to   Ventimiglia 
cannot   take   the   natural   course    down   the   Roja   valley,    but 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       i6i 

must  pass  through  a  second  tunnel  in  order  to  round  this 
obstacle,  and  the  extra  expense  will  no  doubt  long  hinder 
the  carrying  out  of  this  scheme.  The  Col  de  Tenda  is  also 
used  as  a  means  of  communication  between  Cuneo  and  Nice, 
but  to  reach  that  town  two  other  lower  ridges  must  be  crossed 
on  the  way,  the  first  by  the  Col  de  Brouis  (2749  ft.),  from 
Giandola  to  Sospel,  and  the  second  by  the  Col  de  Brans 
(3278  ft.),  over  the  main  divide  of  the  Alps,  from  Sospel  to 
L'Escarene,  whence,  after  crossing  a  third  ridge,  the  Paillon  glen 
is  followed  to  Nice.  At  Nice  fall  in  the  direct  routes  from 
Barcelonnette  through  the  Var  valley  by  the  new  carriage  road 
over  the  Col  de  la  Cayolle  (7717  ft.)  or  through  that  of  its 
affluent,  the  Tinee,  over  the  mule  pass  of  the  Col  des  Grafiges 
Cof/wmnes  (8242  ft.).  These  passes  were  frequented  in  the 
older  days  when  both  Barcelonnette  and  Nice  belonged  to  the 
House  of  Savoy.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Col  delle  Finestre 
(8107  ft.)  is  still  the  most  frequented  pass  of  the  region,  next 
after  the  Col  de  Tenda,  for  on  its  S.  side  (though  still  in 
Italian  territory)  is  a  locally  famous  sanctuary  of  the  Madonna. 

Next  in  order  comes  the  Col  de  rArgentiere  (6545  ft.),  so 
called  in  France  from  the  first  village,  Argentera,  on  the  Italian 
side,  while  the  Italians  call  it  '  Col  de  Larche,'  from  the  first 
important  village  on  the  French  side. — it  is  also  called  '  Col 
de  la  Madeleine,'  from  a  chapel  near  the  top-  It  leads  from 
Cuneo  to  Barcelonnette  in  the  Ubaye  valley.  It  is  one  of  the 
.very  few  Alpine  passes  which,  though  not  mentioned  in  the 
Itineraries,  yet  was  certainly  known  to  the  Romans,  as  is  shown 
by  various  antiquities  found  on  the  route,  though  the  inscrip- 
tions are  said  to  be  forged.  Some  writers  have  attempted  to 
show  that  it  was  Hannibal's  pass,  but,  in  the  opinion  of  the 
present  writer,  who  crossed  it  in  1883  in  company  with  the 
chief  supporter  of  this  theory,  this  view  is  untenable.  As  the 
route  over  it  leads  to  the  valley  of  the  Durance,  it  is  necessary 
to  cross  a  second  pass  before  reaching  the  central  bit  of  the 
Rhone  valley,  and  this  topographical  drawback  has  always  told 
against  our  pass.  After  the  county  of  Nice  (which  included 
Barcelonnette)  came  to  the  House  of  Savoy  from  the  Counts 


i62     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  Provence  in  1388,  and  till  Barcelonnette  became  French  in 
1713  (the  rest  of  the  county  did  not  come  to  France  till  i860) 
our  pass  was  the  chief  route  for  the  Savoy  sovereigns  from 
Piedmont  to  this  part  of  their  dominions,  for  both  sides  of 
the  Mont  Genevre  were  (from  1349)  French.  The  main 
historical  event  in  the  annals  of  the  Argentiere  is  the  passage 
of  Francis  i.  in  15 15  on  his  way  to  Italy.  It  was  later  crossed 
by  armies  in  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  centuries.  The 
carriage  road  across  was  begun  by  Napoleon  (though  not 
completed  till  of  late  years),  who  styled  it  '  route  imperiale 
d'Espagne  en  Italic,'  while  it  actually  bears  the  title  of  'route 
de  Montpellier  a  Coni.'  The  Col  de  Vars  (6939  ft.)  is,  how- 
ever, the  direct  military  route  (especially  since  the  construction 
of  a  char  road  across  it)  from  the  grand  Tournoux  Fort  near  the 
W.  foot  of  the  Argentiere  to  the  junction  of  the  Guil  glen  below 
Briangon  with  the  main  Durance  valley. 

N.  of  the  Argentiere  and  yet  S.  of  the  Mont  Genevre  the 
main  divide  (almost  everywhere  easily  crossed)  is  traversed  by 
several    passes,    none   of  them    boasting   of    a   carriage   road. 
The   Col  de  FAgnel  (9003   ft.)  leads   from  the  Queyras  valley 
(or  Guil  valley)  to  Chateau  Dauphin  (Casteldelfino)  at  the  head 
of  the  Varaita  valley,  and  was  (till  Chateau  Dauphin  became 
Savoyard  in  17 13)  the  main  route  from  the  Dauphine  to  that 
outlying  bit  of  Dauphinois  territory.     That  village,  still  domin- 
ated by  the  ruined  fourteenth  century  castle  of  the  Dauphins 
whence  it  takes  its  name,  is  indeed  a  great  meeting-point  of 
routes  over  easy  Alpine  passes,  for  the  Col  de  Longet  (8767  ft.) 
and  the  Col  de  Lautaret  {^^26  ft.)  both  join  it  to  the  head  of 
the  Ubaye    valley,  while   the   Col  de   Vallante  (9269   ft.)  con- 
nects it  with  the   head  of  the   Guil   valley,   and   so  with  the 
Traversette    and    the    Croix    routes.      Rather    to    the    N.    of 
Monte  Viso  is   the    Col  de  la    Traversette   (9679  ft.),   leading 
from  the  Queyras  to  the   head  of  the  Po  valley  :    it  is  note- 
worthy by  reason  of  the  extraordinary  tunnel  pierced  a  little 
below  the  crest  between  1478  and   1480  by  Louis,  IMarquess 
of  Saluzzo,   and    Louis   xi.    of  France,   in   order   to   facilitate 
exports,  particularly  of  salt  from  Provence  into  Italy,  and  of  rice 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       163 

and  oil  from  Italy  into  France :  the  present  writer  has  often 
passed  through  this  '  trou '  or  '  pertuis,'  which  later  was 
blocked  up  by  falls  of  rock,  though  reopened  in  1907.  Still 
more  to  the  N.  is  the  Colde  la  Croix  (7576  ft.),  which,  even  to 
this  day,  is  the  main  means  of  communication  between  the 
Queyras  and  the  Val  Pellice,  the  principal  of  the  Waldensian 
valleys  of  Piedmont :  on  the  French  side  stands  one  of  the 
small  hospices  built  by  Napoleon  i.,  while  on  the  Italian  side 
there  is  a  small  inn,  above  the  picturesque  ruined  fort  of 
Mirabouc. 

Now  at  last  we  come  to  the  Mont  Genevre  (6083  ft),  a  pass 
which  may  be  described  as  having  long  been  the  principal 
means  of  communication  between  France  and  Italy.  It  leads 
from  Briangon  at  the  head  of  the  Durance  valley  to  Susa 
and  Turin.  As  both  slopes  were  colonised  by  the  Romans, 
we  are  not  surprised  to  find  that  this  pass  plays  a  great  part  in 
the  older  records.  Most  probably  it  was  crossed  by  Hannibal, 
while  it  was  certainly  crossed  by  Caesar  in  B.C.  58  on  his  way 
to  the  conquest  of  Gaul,  and  hence  the  title  of  '  Alpis  Julia' 
conferred  on  it  by  Livy.  Towards  the  end  of  the  fourth 
century  the  route  over  it  was  described  very  minutely  by 
Ammianus  Marcellinus,  this  being  by  far  the  most  detailed 
notice  of  any  Alpine  pass  written  in  what  may  be  still  called 
'Roman  times.'  Even  Strabo  (first  century  a.d.)  devotes  more 
space  (though  that  is  not  saying  much)  to  this  pass  than  to  any 
other.  About  574-5  it  was  the  pass  over  which  the  wild 
Lombards  surged  towards  Gaul,  and  over  which  the  Franks 
drove  them  back,  and  occupied  the  valley  of  Susa.  It  was,  in 
fact,  the  shortest  route  by  which  to  reach  Lombardy,  and  was 
perhaps  taken  by  Charles  the  Great  in  773  when  bound  on 
his  first  visit  to  Italy,  which  was  to  be  rendered  so  memorable 
by  the  complete  subjugation  of  the  Lombards  (774).  But 
the  Mont  Genevre  suffers  from  the  drawback  that  on  the  W. 
side  the  crossing  of  a  second  pass  (whether  the  direct  Col  du 
Lautaret,  6808  ft., — connected  with  the  Mont  Cenis  route 
by  the  Col  du  Galibier,  8721  ft.,  now  traversed  by  a  military 
carriage  road — or  the  roundabout  route  by  Embrun  and  Gap 


i64     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

— both  certainly  Roman  roads)  is  necessary  in  order  to  reach 
the  Rhone  valley,  so  that  its  star  paled  before  that  of  the 
Mont  Cenis  (accessible  direct  by  a  single  valley)  in  the  eighth 
century.  Hence  the  Mont  Genevre  gradually  fell  to  the 
position  of  a  specially  French  pass,  especially  after  the  Dauphine 
was  joined  to  France  (1349),  for  that  event  brought  to  the 
crown  of  France  wide  regions  (the  valley  of  the  Dora  Riparia 
till  close  on  Susa,  and  that  of  the  Chisone  till  near  Pinerolo) 
lying  on  the  E.  slope  of  the  pass,  and  communicating  with 
France  most  easily  by  it.  (The  Mont  Cenis  was,  of  course, 
from  the  eleventh  century  till  x86o  wholly  in  the  hands  of  the 
House  of  Savoy).  A  single  Pope  (Innocent  11.,  in  1131)  and  a 
single  Emperor  (Frederick  i.,  in  1177,  on  his  way  to  his  corona- 
tion as  king  of  Aries)  are  recorded  to  have  crossed  our  pass. 
It  was  by  it  that  Charles  viii.  in  1494  went  to  invade  Italy, 
and  in  1629  it  was  crossed  by  Louis  xiii.,  accompanied  by 
Richelieu.  Even  after  the  loss  of  the  regions  on  the  E.  (ex- 
changed for  Barcelonnette  in  17 13)  the  Mont  Genevre  retained 
its  special  character  as  the  French  pass  across  the  Alps,  and 
troops  passed  over  it  in  1859  on  the  way  to  Magenta  and 
Solferino.  Nowadays  (despite  the  fact  that  it  is  crossed  by  a 
fine  carriage  road,  finished  in  1806)  the  Mont  Genevre  is  but 
little  known  to  foreign  travellers,  but  it  was  once  in  the  very 
first  rank  of  Alpine  passes,  though  its  historical  import- 
ance has  diminished  steadily,  and  it  was  practically  quite  super- 
seded by  the  Mont  Cenis,  of  which  the  Savoyard  side  became 
French  in  i860.  Yet  it  is  low  and  easy,  while  on  the  summit 
there  is  a  village  inhabited  all  the  year  round.  By  means  of 
the  Col  de  Sestrieres  (6631  ft.)  there  is  an  alternative  route 
from  Cesanne  at  the  N.  foot  of  the  Mont  Genevre,  that  runs 
down  the  Chisone  valley  past  Fe'nestrelles  to  Pinerolo. 

Compared  with  the  Mont  Genevre  the  Mont  Cenis  (6893  ft.) 
has  quite  a  short  history,  though  by  means  of  the  narrow  valley 
of  the  Maurienne  (or  of  the  Arc)  it  can  be  reached  direct 
from  Geneva,  Lyons,  or  Grenoble,  while  on  the  other  side 
its  route  joins  that  of  the  Mont  Genevre  at  Susa.  The  name 
of  'Cenis'  appears  first  in  739  as  that  of  some  pastures,  no 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       165 

doubt  those  on  the  great  plateau  of  the  pass.  But  as  the 
name  of  a  pass  it  occurs  first  in  756,  on  the  occasion  of  the 
crossing  by  Pippin.  That  king  may  have  crossed  it  in  754 — 
he  certainly  then  crossed  some  pass  from  the  Maurienne  to 
Susa,  but  no  name  is  given  to  it.  In  the  opinion  of  the 
present  writer  the  usual  pass  before  the  eighth  century  from 
the  Maurienne  to  Susa  was  the  very  easy  mule  pass  of  the 
Col  de  la  Roue  (8419  ft.),  which  is  a  little  S.W.  of  the  so-called 
Mont  Cenis  Tunnel,  and  leads  in  five  hours  past  the  famed 
local  sanctuary  of  Notre  Dame  du  Charmaix  from  Modane  to 
Bardonneche  and  on  to  Oulx,  on  the  Mont  Genevre  route : 
this  pass  was  certainly  frequented  in  the  Middle  Ages  (it  is 
mentioned  by  name  as  early  as  1189)  as  it  is  at  present  by  the 
natives.  In  any  case,  the  Mont  Cenis  soon  became  the  fashion, 
and  was  the  pass  usually  traversed  by  the  Prankish  kings  on 
their  way  to  Lombardy.  Between  814  and  825  Louis  the  Pious 
founded  the  Hospice  on  the  summit  (it  was  refounded  by 
Napoleon  i.),  and  in  877  Charles  the  Bald  died  on  his  way  over 
the  pass.  With  the  single  exception  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
no  pass  in  the  Western  Alps  was  so  often  crossed  by  the 
Emperors.  Among  others,  the  passage  in  January,  1077,  by 
Henry  iv.  (on  his  way  to  Canossa),  with  his  wife  and  suite, 
is  noteworthy  by  reason  of  the  very  vivid  account  of  the 
adventures  of  the  party  given  by  the  chronicler,  Lambert  of 
Hersfeld.  The  ladies  were  placed  on  skins  and  so  drawn 
down  the  icy  slopes  towards  Italy.  Naturally  the  princes  of 
the  House  of  Savoy  frequently  crossed  our  pass,  which  lay 
wholly  within  their  dominions  and  led  direct  from  their  early 
capital,  Chambery,  to  their  later  (from  1559  onwards)  capital, 
Turin.  In  February,  1476,  the  crossing  was  effected  by 
Yolande,  Dowager-Duchess  of  Savoy  (sister  of  Louis  xi.),  hasten- 
ing to  the  help  of  her  ally,  Charles  the  Bold,  Duke  of  Burgundy. 
This  passage  is  remarkable,  because  we  first  then  hear  of  the 
practice  of  'ramassier'  (later  called  'glisser  a  la  ramasse'), 
that  is  '  tobogganing '  on  wooden  sledges,  guided  by  men  called 
'  marons '  (the  name  is  almost  always  reserved  to  the  men 
employed  on  the  Mont  Cenis  and  on  the  Great  St.  Bernard), 


166     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

by  which  the  descent  was  made  very  quickly  (even  in  summer) 
from  the  pass  to  Lanslebourg.  Later  on,  most  travellers  (let 
Montaigne  in  1581  be  specially  named)  employed  this  speedy 
method,  which  probably  was  one  of  the  minor  attractions  of 
the  pass.  The  local  saying  was  'marrons  de  la  Novalese, 
mulcts  de  Lanslebourg  '  (Novalesa  being  the  great  Benedictine 
monastery  between  Susa  and  the  pass,  wliich  flourished  from 
726  to  1855).  In  fact,  we  may  say  confidently  that  if  a 
traveller  going  from  France  to  Italy  does  not  name  the  route 
he  took  across  the  Alps,  it  is  almost  certain  that  it  will  turn 
out  to  have  been  the  Mont  Cenis.  Yet  there  was  only  a  mule 
path  across  the  pass  till  Napoleon  {the  great  road-builder  in  the 
Alps)  had  the  carriage  road  constructed  between  1803  and 
1810.  For  a  few  years,  1868-1871,  a  light  railway  (the  first  of 
its  kind),  called  the  '  Fell  Railway '  from  the  name  of  its  inven- 
tor, was  worked  (by  English  engine-drivers)  right  across  the 
pass.  But  by  previous  contract  it  was  unfortunately  destroyed 
when  the  tunnel  was  opened  in  September  1871,  though  it 
must  be  carefully  recollected  that  this  tunnel  is  pierced  at 
a  spot  seventeen  miles  W.  of  the  Mont  Cenis,  and  beneath  the 
Col  de  Frejus  (8294  ft.),  so  that  it  is  accurately  named  'Tunnel 
de  Frejus.'  At  Bramans,  about  half-way  between  Modane  and 
Lanslebourg,  the  main  Arc  valley  is  joined  by  the  little  known 
Ambin  glen  (split  into  three  arms),  from  which  lead  various 
passes.  One  of  these,  the  Col  d'Etache  (9144  ft.),  leads  over  to 
Bardonneche,  and  another,  the  Col d" Ambin  {()2,^:\  ft.),  to  Exilles. 
But  more  important  historically  is  the  most  northerly  of  the 
three  arms  of  this  glen,  that  of  Savine.  From  it  the  Fetil  Mont 
Cenis  (7166  ft.)  leads  over  to  the  Mont  Cenis  plateau,  and, 
while  certainly  crossed  in  1689  by  the  Waldensians,  has  rather 
singularly  been  also  claimed  for  Hannibal.  This  is  also  the 
case  (according  to  a  recent  French  writer)  with  the  Col  de 
Clapier  {^iT T^  ft.)  that  leads  from  the  head  of  the  Savine  arm 
to  Susa.  But  the  present  writer,  who  has  several  times  visited 
this  valley,  is  still  quite  incredulous  as  to  the  passage  of  the 
Carthaginian  army  in  this  part  of  the  Alps,  though  '  white 
rocks,'  etc.,  are  easily  found  there,  as  elsewhere.     Much  higher 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       167 

up  the  Arc  valley  than  Bramans  is  Bessans,  whence  the  Col  de 
VAutaret  (10,073  ft.)  leads  N.  of  the  Rochemelon  over  to 
Lanzo,  above  Turin, 

The  next  great  pass  on  our  list  is  the  Little  St.  Bernard. 
But  before  speaking  of  it  let  us  mention  two  other  passes. 
One,  just  W.  of  the  main  divide,  is  called  the  Col  dti  Mont 
Iseran  (9085  ft.),  and  leads  from  the  head-waters  of  the  Arc 
(the  Maurienne)  to  those  of  the  Isere  (the  Tarentaise).  It  is 
noteworthy  in  that  it  was  crossed  in  1689  by  the  Waldensians, 
under  Henri  Arnaud,  on  their  return  (the  '  Glorieuse  Rentree ') 
to  their  Piedmontese  valleys.  In  the  early  nineteenth  century 
a  legend  sprang  up  that  near  the  pass  rose  the  lofty  Mont 
Iseran  (13,271  ft.  in  height),  one  of  the  giants  of  the  Alps, 
and  this  peak  actually  appears  in  1845  and  1858  in  the 
publications  (book  and  map)  of  the  Sardinian  engineers,  though 
Its  existence  was  disproved,  by  a  personal  examination  of  the 
region  in  1859-1860  by  two  English  travellers,  Mr.  William 
Mathews  and  Mr.  J.  J.  Cowell — there  had  simply  been  a  mis- 
placement of  other  lofty  (though  not  so  lofty)  peaks  in  the 
neighbourhood.  The  other  pass,  the  Col  du  Mont  (8681  ft.) 
leads  from  near  the  W.  foot  of  the  Little  St.  Bernard  by  the 
Val  Grisanche  to  the  Aosta  valley:  it  is  indeed  a  kind  of 
'  under  study '  of  the  Little  St.  Bernard,  and  formerly  was  much 
used  by  the  natives  as  it  is  easier  than  the  other  pass  :  in  1792- 
1800  (especially  in  1794)  it  was  the  scene  of  several  bloody 
combats  between  the  French  and  the  Piedmontese.  From 
the  very  head  of  the  Isere  valley  the  easy  glacier  pass  of  the 
Col  de  la  Galise  (9836  ft.)  gives  access  to  the  very  head  of  the 
Oreo  glen,  whence  the  grassy  Col  de  la  Croix  de  Nivokt 
(8665  ft.)  leads  to  Aosta. 

The  Little  St.  Bernard  (7179  ft.)  has  a  remarkably  unevent- 
ful history.  It  was  certainly  crossed  by  Ccesar  on  his  last 
journey  from  Gaul  to  Rome  before  the  outbreak  of  the  civil 
war  in  B.C.  49,  and  probably  shared  with  the  Mont  Genevre 
the  honour  of  being  the  regular  route  of  Roman  officials  going 
to  or  returning  from  Gaul.  But  its  later  history  is  most  meagre, 
though  one  might  have  expected  that  a  pass  which  joined  two 


i68     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  the  oldest  possessions  of  the  House  of  Savoy  (the  valley 
of  Aosta  and  the  Tarentaise)  would  have  played  a  more  prom- 
inent part.  Probably  the  fact  that  it  was  midway  between  the 
Mont  Cenis  and  the  Great  St.  Bernard  was  disadvantageous  to 
it,  as  also  the  very  steep  ascent  on  the  S.W.  slope  and  the  great 
gorge  on  the  N.E.  slope.  It  is  true  that  a  Hospice  existed  on 
the  summit  from  the  eleventh  century  onwards.  But  while  the 
earlier  mediaeval  title  of  the  pass  (as  of  its  neighbour)  was 
*  Mons  Jovis  '  it  later  (i  i8i)  took  that  of  '  domus  sancti  Bernardi 
mentis  Jovis.'  From  about  1466  the  Hospice  was  served  by 
the  Austin  canons  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  and  dependent 
on  the  house  there,  while  about  1500  the  pass  is  called  the 
'  Mont  Jouvet '  to  distinguish  it  from  the  Mont  Joux,  or  the 
Great  St.  Bernard — the  one  pass  thus  rising  and  the  other 
falling.  About  1750  the  Hospice  was  handed  over  to  the  care 
of  the  military  and  religious  order  of  SS.  Maurice  and  Lazarus, 
which  still  holds  it,  but  it  was  not  till  about  187 1  that  the 
carriage  road  across  the  pass  was  completed. 

Nearly  opposite  the  Little  St.  Bernard,  across  the  upper 
Val  d' Aosta,  is  the  Great  St.  Ber?iard  Pass  (81 11  ft.),  perhaps 
the  Alpine  pass  which  is  best  known  by  name  to  non-travellers. 
It  seems  to  have  been  frequented  even  before  the  days  of  the 
Romans,  and  has  never  since  then  ceased  to  be  one  of  the 
great  thoroughfares  across  the  Alps.  The  Hospice  was  probably 
originally  placed  in  the  early  ninth  century  in  the  village  of 
Bourg  St.  Pierre,  at  the  foot  of  the  last  ascent  on  the  Swiss 
side.  But  by  859  it  probably  existed  on  the  summit  of  the 
pass,  while  it  was  refounded  there  (after  the  ravages  of  the 
Saracens  from  La  Garde  Freinet  had  ceased)  by  St.  Bernard 
of  Menthon  (d.  about  1081).  Perhaps  since  11 54,  certainly 
since  1215,  it  has  been  served  by  Austin  canons  (who  formerly 
held  the  Little  St.  Bernard  Hospice,  and  still  hold  that  on  the 
Simplon),  whose  mother-house  is  at  Martigny.  One  of  the 
earliest  detailed  itineraries  across  it  which  have  come  down 
to  us  is  that  of  Sigeric,  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  who  went 
over  the  pass  in  990,  for  the  Saracens  had  been  driven  away  after 
their  memorable  capture  (973)  of  Majolus,  the  abbat  of  Cluny, 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       169 

on  his  journey.  The  canons  at  one  time  held  many  lands  in 
England  :  in  1177  the  chapel  of  Romford  is  mentioned  among 
their  possessions,  while  Henry  11.  gave  them  the  hospital  of 
Hornchurch  or  Havering  in  Essex,  which  was  acquired  from 
them  by  William  of  Wykeham,  Bishop  of  Winchester,  for  the 
benefit  of  his  great  foundation  (1379)  of  New  College,  Oxford, 
which  still  owns  the  property  and  the  advowson  of  the  living. 
The  pass  was  a  favourite  one  with  kings  and  pilgrims  on  their 
way  to  Rome.  In  773  Bernard,  the  uncle  of  Charles  the 
Great,  crossed  it,  and  was  later  followed  by  many  Emperors, 
ending  with  Sigismund  in  14 14,  if  indeed  we  should  not  extend 
the  list  to  Napoleon's  famous  passage  in  May,  1800,  as  he 
put  himself  forward  as  the  successor  of  the  medieval  Emperors. 
Nowadays  the  spread  of  mountain  railways  has  taken  away  from 
the  practical  importance  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  which  is 
mainly  frequented  by  Piedmontese  labourers  who,  on  their  way 
to  find  work  for  the  summer  in  Switzerland,  cross  this  pass  in 
spring  and  in  autumn.  Yet  it  is  surprising  that  the  carriage  road 
over  our  pass  was  completed  so  very  recently — the  bit  from  the 
last  village  on  the  Swiss  side  in  1893  0"^y>  ^^'^ile  that  from 
the  last  hamlet  on  the  Italian  side  was  not  opened  till  1905. 
The  Col  Ferret  {%i\i  ft.),  soon  to  be  traversed  by  the  highest 
carriage  road  within  Switzerland,  is  nearly  parallel  to  the 
Great  St.  Bernard,  as  is  the  Col  de  la  Seigne  (8242  ft.)  in 
relation  to  the  Little  St.  Bernard. 

We  must  now  turn  eastwards  along  the  great  divide,  which 
is  crossed  at  various  points  by  some  of  the  oldest  glacier  passes 
known,  in  particular  the  Col  de  Fenetre  (9 141  ft.),  the  Col  de 
Collon  (10,270  ft.),  the  St.  Theoduk  (10,899  ft.),  and  the 
Schwarzberg  Weissthor  (11,851  ft.):  all  these  passes  were  well 
known  in  the  first  half  of  the  sixteenth  century,  the  Theodule 
having  probably  been  traversed  in  the  thirteenth  century  already. 
But,  however  interesting,  they  cannot  be  called  great  historical 
passes,  as  practically  they  were  only  used  by  the  natives.  Far 
other  is  the  case  with  two  other  passes,  both  situated  at  the 
head  of  the  Saas  valley — the  Monte  Moro  (9390  ft.)  and  the 
Antrona  Pass   (9331    ft.) — both  leading  to  the  Ossola  valley, 


I70     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

a  little  below  Domo  d'Ossola,  the  former  by  the  Val  Anzasca, 
and  the  latter  by  the  Val  Antrona.  Both  are  mentioned  in  the 
thirteenth  century,  and  in  1440  (by  1403  already  in  the  case 
of  the  Monte  Moro)  we  hear  that  a  mule  track  had  been 
constructed  over  both.  The  Monte  Moro  (the  origin  of  the 
name  is  uncertain,  though  it  certainly  has  nothing  to  do  with 
'  Lodovico  il  Moro '  of  Milan)  served  mainly  as  the  means  of 
communication  between  the  Italian-speaking  colony  at  Saas 
(the  traces  of  which  can  still  be  found  by  a  close  examination 
of  the  local  names)  dating  from  about  1250,  and  the  German- 
speaking  colony  at  Macugnaga  (which  still  flourishes  there) 
dating  from  between  1262  and  1291 — both  were  established 
by  the  local  lord,  the  Count  of  Biandrate  or  Blandrate,  who  by 
marriage  had  acquired  lands  in  the  Vallais.  The  Antrona 
Pass,  on  the  other  hand,  was  for  centuries  the  great  com- 
mercial route  from  the  Upper  Vallais  towards  Milan,  for  the 
Simplon  was  far  more  difficult  of  access.  A  great  landslip  in 
1642  nearly  destroyed  the  whole  of  the  village  of  Antrona. 
But  the  paved  track  (bits  of  which  are  still  visible)  was  restored 
once  more  in  the  early  eighteenth  century,  while  in  1790-2  we 
hear  of  large  imports  of  salt  from  the  Milanese  across  the 
pass,  this  being  one  of  the  chief  commodities  in  which  trade 
was  carried  on.  But  the  construction  of  the  carriage  road  over 
the  Simplon  (1801-5)  put  an  end  to  the  prosperity  of  our  pass, 
which  retains  its  character  as  an  'historical  pass,'  though  it 
can  no  longer  be  called  a  '  great '  pass. 

The  name  of  Swiplon  appears  first  in  1235,  if  we  take  count 
only  of  authentic  documents.  It  is  then  applied  to  the 
Hospice  on  the  pass  (6592  ft.),  though  the  village  of  that  name 
on  the  S.  slope  of  the  pass  is  not  mentioned  till  1267,  when, 
however,  it  had  a  church  (not  merely  a  chapel),  so  that  it  must 
have  existed  for  some  time  already.  Probably  its  settlement 
is  another  case  of  that  curious  and  widely  diffused  wave  of 
colonisation  from  the  Upper  Vallais  in  the  thirteenth  century. 
It  is  said  that  Odo,  Archbishop  of  Rouen,  crossed  it  in  1254, 
and  Pope  Gregory  x.  in  1275.  A  good  deal  of  detailed  in- 
formation has  been  preserved  to  us  about  the  tolls,  and  other 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       171 

arrangements  (especially  towards  the  end  of  the  thirteenth 
century)  for  the  transport  of  goods  across  the  pass,  which  was 
always  in  the  hands  of  the  Vallaisans  (especially  of  the  Bishop 
of  Sion),  and  is  often  called  the  '  mons  Briga  '  (from  Brieg  at  its 
W.  foot).  But  the  Hospice,  which  had  belonged  to  the 
Knights  Hospitaller  of  St.  John  of  Jerusalem,  gradually  dis- 
appears from  sight  in  the  fifteenth  century,  probably  because  the 
Antrona  Pass  in  the  fifteenth  and  sixteenth  centuries  was  at  the 
height  of  its  prosperity.  Besides,  the  path  over  the  Simplon 
was  very  dangerous  and  exposed  on  both  sides,  even  if  the  great 
gorge  of  Gondo  was  avoided  by  crossing  two  low  passes  (between 
which  lay  the  Zwischbergen  valley)  to  the  Val  Bognanco,  which 
leads  straight  down  to  Domo  d'Ossola.  In  the  fifteenth  and 
early  sixteenth  century  the  Simplon  was  often  crossed  by  the 
Vallaisans  and  Swiss  while  striving  (1410-1515)  to  seize  or  hold 
the  Val  d'Ossola.  The  old  Hospice  was  sold  in  1655  to  the 
Stockalper  family  of  Brieg,  which  entertained  travellers.  But  this 
pass  never  really  rose  much,  if  at  all,  beyond  a  route  of  local 
importance,  till  Napoleon  cast  his  eyes  upon  it  and  realised  its 
strategical  importance.  He  caused  the  present  carriage  road  to  be 
constructed  across  it  between  1801  and  1805,  and  built  a  set  of 
barracks  on  the  summit,  which  forms  the  present  New  Hospice 
(the  Old  Hospice  is  that  built  by  the  Stockalpers),  which  in 
1825  was  bought  by  the  Austin  canons  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard, 
and  is  still  occupied  by  some  members  of  that  community.  In 
1802  Napoleon  detached  the  Vallais  from  the  Helvetic  Republic, 
raising  it  into  a  separate  state  as  the  '  Rhodanic  RepubHc,'  and 
annexing  it  (1810)  to  the  French  Empire  as  the  '  Departement  du 
Simplon,'  though  the  region  finally  became  Swiss  in  1815. 
Very  recently  a  tunnel  has  been  pierced  beneath  the  pass  (it 
was  opened  in  the  spring  of  1906),  and  so  the  Simplon  has 
become  a  great  international  route,  and  has  thus  acquired  far 
more  importance  than  it  had  ever  possessed  previously. 


172     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 


II. — The  Central  Alps 

The  Central  Alps  are  crossed  by  comparatively  few  Great 
Passes.  Indeed,  one  can  only  reckon  a  good  half-dozen  (the 
St.  Gotthard,  the  Lukmanier,  the  San  Bernardino,  the  Spliigen, 
the  Septimer,  the  Ofen,  and  the  Umbrail).  The  passes  leading 
to  the  Engadine  have  merely  a  local  importance,  save  the  Ofen 
and  its  continuation,  the  Fliiela.  But,  to  make  up  for  this 
paucity  of  passes  over  the  main  chain,  there  are  a  number  of 
routes  over  the  ranges  that  rise  to  the  N.  of  the  main  divide, 
and  often  rival  (if  they  do  not  surpass)  it  in  point  of  height. 

The  two  passes  over  the  main  crest  that  we  meet  with  a  little 
to  the  N.E.  of  the  Simplon  may  be  dismissed  briefly.  One  is 
the  Alb  run  Pass  (7907  ft.),  leading  from  the  Binn  glen  of  the 
Upper  Vallais  to  Baceno  in  the  Val  d'Ossola,  above  Domo  : 
it  has  always  been  a  smugglers'  pass,  being  off  the  main  route, 
while  in  1425  it  was  crossed  by  the  Swiss  when  making  one  of 
their  raids  on  Domo  d'Ossola.  The  other  pass,  the  Gries  Pass 
(8098  ft.),  has  a  small  flat  glacier  on  the  summit,  which  is, 
however,  easily  traversed  by  beasts  of  burden.  It  leads  from 
near  the  very  head  of  the  Upper  Vallais,  through  the  Eginen 
glen  (whence  the  Nufefien  Pass,  8006  ft.,  affords  a  convenient 
short  cut  to  Airolo,  at  the  S.  foot  of  the'St.  Gotthard)  to  the  very 
head  of  the  Tosa  valley  (called  here  the  Val  Formazza,  and 
lower  down  the  Val  d'Ossola)  and  to  the  splendid  Tosa  Falls. 
No  doubt  it  was  over  the  Gries  that  the  still  existing  German- 
speaking  colony  in  the  Val  Formazza  came  in  the  thirteenth 
century.  Then,  too,  the  Gries  Pass  served,  in  combination  with 
the  Grimsel  (the  old  paved  track  from  the  latter  still  exists  and 
reaches  the  upper  Rhone  valley  close  to  the  entrance  of  the 
Eginen  glen),  for  the  transport  of  merchandise  between  Italy 
and  the  Bernese  Oberland.  In  1397  representatives  from  the 
Oberland  met  those  from  the  Val  d'Ossola  at  Miinster  (the  chief 
village  in  the  uppermost  reach  of  the  Upper  Vallais)  in  order  to 
arrange  a  commercial  treaty  for  the  trade  between  their  respec- 
tive districts,  including  the  question  of  making  or  keeping  up 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       173 

the  mule  paths  across  the  two  passes.  No  doubt  this  commerce 
grew  much  when  the  Val  d'Ossola  was  held  by  the  Swiss,  though 
even  later  (that  is,  after  151 5)  it  went  on  for  a  time.  But  then 
it  passed  away  to  the  Antrona  Pass,  and,  in  some  degree,  to  the 
Simplon  Pass.  Yet  even  nowadays  the  Gries  is  often  crossed 
by  the  natives  of  both  slopes,  who  thus  save  the  great  detour  by 
the  Simplon. 

As  we  have  just  spoken  of  the  Grimsel,  it  is  perhaps  best  to 
clear  off  that  pass,  and  four  others,  all  traversing  the  range  N.  of 
the  Vallais,  before  going  on  to  the  pass  in  the  Central  Alps,  the 
St.  Gotthard. 

The  Grimsel  Pass  (7100  ft.)  is  the  easiest  route  from  the 
Bernese  Oberland  to  the  Upper  Vallais,  and  so  has  been 
frequented  from  very  early  times.  In  1211  it  was  crossed  by 
troops,  and  again  in  141 9,  in  both  cases  by  the  Bernese  making 
a  raid  into  the  Vallais.  The  famous  Hospice  at  the  foot  of  the 
last  ascent  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  pass  is  first  mentioned  in 
1479,  but  undoubtedly  existed  long  before,  for  in  1382  the 
men  of  Hasle  bought  from  the  Bernese  family  of  Bubenberg 
the  Alpine  pastures  at  the  head  of  the  Aar  valley — both  Hospice 
and  pastures  remained  the  property  of  the  Hasle  folk  till  1902, 
when  they  were  sold  to  the  then  lessee  of  the  Hospice.  For 
centuries  a  mule  path  alone  traversed  the  pass,  which  was  (as 
pointed  out  above)  the  first  link  in  the  trade  route  between  the 
Oberland  and  Italy  (over  the  Gries).  But  in  1895  the  splendid 
new  carriage  road  across  it  was  opened — this  descends  (for  the 
benefit  of  summer  travellers)  to  the  foot  of  the  Rhone  Glacier, 
whence  the  Furka  Pass  (7992  ft.)  leads  over  to  Uri ;  but  the  old 
historical  paved  mule  path  still  exists  from  the  top  of  the 
Grimsel  to  the  Rhone  valley  at  Obergestelen,  nearly  opposite 
the  Eginen  valley,  through  which  runs  the  Gries  Pass  route. 

A  good  way  to  the  W.  of  the  Grimsel  the  main  ridge  of  the 
Bernese  Alps  is  crossed  by  several  minor  historical  passes — such 
as  the  Sanetsch  Pass  (7331  ft.),  leading  from  the  head  of  the  Saane 
or  Sarine  valley  to  Sion,  which  is  also  attained  by  ih&Rawil  Pass 
(7924  ft.)  from  that  of  the  Simme.  More  important  historically 
are  two  passes  some  distance  to  the  E.  of  these — the  Lbtschen 


174     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Pass  (8842  ft.),  and  to  its  W.  the  far  better  known  Gemmi  Pass 
(7641  ft.)  The  Lotschen  Pass  leads  from  the  Rhone  valley  by 
the  Lotschen  valley  to  Kandersteg,  above  Frutigen ;  at  Kander- 
steg  the  route  joins  that  over  the  Gemmi,  which  has  come  from 
the  Rhone  valley  through  the  Dala  glen  and  past  the  celebrated 
hot  springs  of  Leukerbad.  Both  passes  are  mentioned  early. 
The  Lotschen  Pass  had  a  cross  on  it  (and  so  must  have  been 
well  known)  in  1352,  and  was  probably  the  route  by  which  (as 
narrated  in  Chapter  vii.)  a  colony  from  the  Lotschen  valley  was 
transported  early  in  the  fourteenth  century  to  the  head  of  the 
Lauterbrunnen  valley.  Though  there  is  a  glacier  on  the  summit 
of  the  pass,  it  is  very  easily  crossed,  which  accounts  for  the  fact 
that  in  1384  and  again  in  1419  and  in  1656  battles  between  the 
Bernese  and  the  Vallaisans  took  place  on  the  summit  of  the 
pass.  As  the  Lotschen  Pass  was  for  centuries  much  easier  to 
cross  than  the  Gemmi,  all  local  commerce  passed  over  it.  In 
1698,  after  many  delays,  a  paved  mule  track  was  constructed  on 
the  Bernese  slope  of  the  pass,  and  traces  of  it  are  still  visible. 
But  the  Vallaisans  would  not  build  the  road  on  their  side  of 
the  pass,  fearing  that  thus  Protestant  influences  might  penetrate 
into  their  region.  After  the  Gemmi  path  was  rendered  better, 
the  Lotschen  Pass  lost  much  of  its  practical  importance.  But 
one  of  the  most  recent  schemes  for  piercing  a  tunnel  beneath 
the  Bernese  Alps  has  selected  the  Lotschen  Pass,  which  may 
thus,  in  a  way,  regain  much  of  its  old  position.  We  hear  of  the 
Gemmi  Pass,  under  the  Romance  name  of  'Curmilz'  or  '  Curmyz ' 
in  1252  and  13 18,  from  which  it  appears  that  the  great  plain 
extending  N.  from  the  crest  towards  the  Frutigen  valley,  and 
the  Hospice  or  inn  thereon  situated  (now  known  as  Schwaren- 
bach)  were  already  within  the  limits  of  the  Vallais  (though 
physically  within  those  of  Berne)  as  they  are  to  this  day.  As 
early  as  1544  we  have  a  most  thrilling  account  (by  Sebastian 
Mlinster,  the  geographer)  of  his  traverse  of  the  pass,  and  of  the 
horrors  of  the  bad  path  from  Leukerbad  to  the  pass.  Later  we 
read  that  by  this  bad  track  a  horse  could  only  carry  half  a  proper 
load,  while  every  cow  (on  its  way  to  the  pastures)  required  a 
man  to  itself.     Hence  in  17 40-1  a  band  of  Tyrolese  workmen 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       175 

was  employed  to  improve  the  path  {not  to  construct  it  for  the 
first  time,  as  is  often  said),  and  that  path,  with  further  improve- 
ments, is  the  winding  track  so  well  known  to  every  Swiss 
traveller.  In  1742  the  inn  at  Schwarenbach  was  built,  but 
was  destroyed  next  year  by  an  avalanche,  and  reconstructed 
next  year  in  a  more  sheltered  position.  It  should  perhaps  be 
added  that  the  derivation  of  the  name  of  the  pass  from 
'  gemitus'  (groans)  has  no  authority  to  support  it  and  is  purely 
fanciful.  Probably  the  name  is  a  Teutonised  form  of  the 
Romance  name  under  which  the  pass  is  first  mentioned. 

We  now  come  to  the  St.  Gotthard  (6936  ft.),  which,  ever  since 
it  was  opened  up,  has  been  the  principal  pass  in  the  Central 
Alps.  Its  topographical  position  is  perhaps  unequalled  save 
by  that  of  the  Brenner.  A  single  river-valley  (that  of  the 
Reuss)  leads  up  to  it  on  the  N.  slope  from  the  plains  of  N. 
Switzerland,  while  another  valley  of  similar  character  (that  of 
the  Ticino)  leads  down  on  the  S.  slope  straight  to  the  Italian 
Lakes  and  to  the  rich  plains  of  Lombardy.  At  its  N.  foot  easy 
passes  facilitate  communications  with  the  head  of  the  Rhine 
valley  (by  the  Oberalp  Pass,  6719  ft.)  and  with  that  of  the 
Rhone  (by  the  Ftirka  Pass,  7992  ft.),  while  lower  down  the 
Reuss  valley  the  Susten  Pass  (7422  ft.)  leads  W.  to  the  Bernese 
Oberland,  and  the  Ktausen  Pass  (6404  ft.)  E.  to  Glarus.  On 
the  S.  side  the  routes  from  the  great  Rsetian  passes  join  that 
of  the  St.  Gotthard  as  this  nears  the  Italian  plains.  One  great 
physical  drawback  the  St.  Gotthard  has,  however,  always 
suffered  from,  and  that,  no  doubt,  accounts  for  the  relatively  late 
appearance  of  the  pass  in  history — both  the  Reuss  and  the 
Ticino  valleys  are  very  rugged  and  very  narrow,  and  so  the 
tracks  through  them  are  exposed  to  great  dangers,  though  to 
realise  this  nowadays  one  must  not  content  oneself  with  merely 
sitting  in  a  through  train  from  Lucerne  to  Milan,  but  cross  the 
pass  on  foot.  These  obstacles  could  only  be  overcome  by  the 
aid  of  time  and  patience,  but  when  overcome,  the  prosperous 
future  of  the  pass  was  secured.  Its  fortunes,  too,  have  had  an 
enormous  influence  on  those  of  Lucerne,  its  starting-point  on 
the  N.,  for  the  opening  of  the  mule  path  (about  1293),  of  the 


1/6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

carriage  road  (1820-1830),  and  of  the  tunnel  (1882)  have 
marked  successive  great  steps  forward  in  the  commercial  im- 
portance of  that  town. 

Despite  all  endeavours  it  has  not  yet  been  found  possible  to 
discover  a  certain  mention  of  the  pass  before  1236,  when 
Albert,  abbat  of  Stade  (not  far  from  Hamburg),  in  his  Chronicle, 
describes  the  route  over  the  pass  which  he  himself  seems  to 
have  taken  on  his  return  from  Rome  (which  he  had  reached  by 
way  of  the  Mont  Cenis).  The  route  is  indicated,  and  the  pass 
is  mentioned  by  Abbat  Albert  under  the  name  of  '  mons 
Elvelinus,  which  the  Lombards  call  Ursare'  (Ursern).  The 
name  St.  Gotthard  first  occurs  in  the  great  enumeration  (drawn 
up  in  the  first  years  of  the  fourteenth  century)  of  the  Habs- 
burg  possessions  in  Switzerland  and  Alsace,  and  the  mule  path 
over  (as  well  as  the  earliest  traders)  is  first  mentioned  in  1293, 
while  the  chapel  and  Hospice,  or  toll-house,  on  the  summit  are  not 
expressly  mentioned  till  133 1.  Such  are  the  certainly  ascertained 
facts — there  have  been  many  conjectures  and  ingenious  theories 
as  to  all  these  matters,  but  none  has  as  yet  even  attempted  to 
push  back  the  opening  of  this  pass  earlier  than  12 18.  Very 
probably,  nay,  certainly,  the  various  facts  mentioned  existed 
earlier,  but  one  cannot  assign  to  them  any  earlier  certain  and 
fixed  dates.  But  there  is  no  doubt  that  in  the  fourteenth 
century  the  pass  was  well  known  and  frequently  traversed,  being 
the  great  route  by  which  merchandise  passed  through  Switzer- 
land between  Germany  and  Italy,  while  in  the  fifteenth  century 
it  much  facilitated  the  conquest  of  the  Italian  bailiwicks  by  the 
Swiss  of  which  we  have  spoken  in  Chapter  vii.  It  is  noteworthy, 
however,  that  no  mediaeval  Emperor  seems  ever  to  have  crossed 
our  pass,  the  historical  importance  of  which,  till  our  own  time, 
has  been  commercial  and  not  political  (save  to  a  very  small 
extent),  in  striking  contrast  to  the  Mont  Cenis. 

The  greatest  obstacle  on  the  N.  side  of  the  pass  was  the 
SchoUenen  gorge  just  below  Andermatt  and  above  Goschenen 
(it  is  avoided  by  the  railway).  Not  to  speak  of  the  legends 
connected  with  the  old  Devil's  Bridge  (which  fell  in  1888),  the 
problem  was  how  to  overcome  the   rocky  slopes  above  it,  in 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       177 

order  to  reach  the  basin  in  which  Andermatt  stands.  In  the 
Habsburg  '  terrier '  of  the  early  fourteenth  century  (see  above)  we 
find  a  mention  of  the  '  stiebende  Briicke '  (the  '  spray-washed  ' 
bridge),  which  was  a  narrow  wooden  terrace  about  200  ft.  long,  and 
suspended,  at  a  great  height  above  the  rushing  Reuss,  by  chains 
on  the  precipitous  rocky  mountain  face.  Save  a  rough  path 
above  the  other  bank  of  the  Reuss,  this  frail  bridge  (which  had 
to  be  constantly  renewed)  was  for  ages  the  sole  means  of  access 
to  Andermatt  direct  from  Lucerne.  It  hung  on  the  outer  wall 
of  the  short  tunnel  called  the  '  Urnerloch,'  which  was  only 
pierced  in  1707,  and  made  wide  enough  for  carriages  in  1830. 
Schiller,  in  his  play  William  Tell  (1804),  first  confounds  the 
'  stiebend  Briicke '  with  the  Devil's  Bridge,  and  then  makes  the 
'  Urnerloch '  exist  at  the  same  time — two  poetical  anachronisms. 
As  early  as  July  25,  1775,  an  enterprising  English  traveller,  Mr. 
Greville,  the  mineralogist,  succeeded  in  crossing  the  pass  in  a 
light  chaise,  without  taking  his  conveyance  to  pieces :  Saussure 
records  how  he  met  this  adventurous  spirit  the  same  even- 
ing at  the  Hospice.  But  it  was  not  till  1820-1830  that  the 
carriage  road  was  constructed  over  the  pass  to  meet  the  rivalry 
of  those  then  built  over  the  San  Bernardino  and  the  Spliigen, 
while  the  great  railway  tunnel  was  pierced  in  187 2-1 880,  and, 
with  the  railway  lines  leading  to  it,  was  opened  for  traffic 
in  1882. 

The  name  of  the  pass  is  taken  from  that  of  a  Bishop  of 
Hildesheim,  who  died  in  1038  and  was  canonised  in  1132. 
The  only  reason  that  has  as  yet  been  discovered  for  this  curious 
dedication  is  the  fact  that  in  Milan  the  festival  of  that  saint 
(May  4)  was  (according  to  the  city  statutes  of  121 5)  a  'red 
letter  '  day,  on  which  courts  did  not  sit,  while  in  the  same 
city  there  is  a  church  (built  1 328-1 339)  bearing  his  name,  San 
Gottardo  in  Corte  (in  the  ducal  palace).  A  better  Hospice  on 
the  summit  was  built  in  143 1  in  order  to  house  the  Archbishop 
of  Milan  (to  whom  the  S.  side  of  the  pass,  as  well  as  part  of 
the  N.  slope,  belonged)  on  his  way  to  the  Council  of  Bale,  and 
in  1496  we  hear  that  it  was  inhabited  by  a  lay  brother.  St. 
Charles  Borromeo  (Archbishop  of  Milan,  1 560-1 584)  intended 
M 


178     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

to  enlarge  both,  but  it  was  only  in  1623  that  a  better  house 
was  built  for  the  priest,  and  in  1683  a  new  Hospice,  which  was 
intrusted  to  the  care  of  a  few  Capuchins,  of  whom  all  travellers 
speak  with  grateful  recognition.  An  avalanche  in  1775 
destroyed  all  the  buildings  save  the  Hospice  itself,  while  the 
reconstructed  buildings,  besides  the  chapel,  perished  at  the 
hands  of  the  French  in  1799.  The  new  Hospice  was  only 
erected  in  1834,  but  was  burnt  in  1905,  though  no  doubt  it 
will  soon  be  rebuilt.  The  hotel  opposite  it  was  built  in  1867, 
and  did  not  perish  in  the  fire  of  1905.  From  Airolo,  at  the 
S.  foot  of  the  pass,  the  easy  San  Giacomo  Pass  (7573  ft.)  leads 
over  to  Tosa  Falls  on  the  Gries  Pass  route,  and  thus  connects 
the  St.  Gotthard  with  the  Simplon. 

This  is  perhaps  the  best  place  at  which  to  insert  a  short 
notice  of  some  minor  lateral  passes  in  the  Central  Alps,  which 
indirectly  owe  their  historical  fame  to  the  St.  Gotthard.  In 
late  September  1799  Suvorofif,  with  a  considerable  (21,000  men) 
Russian  arnw,  succeeded  in  forcing  the  passage  of  the 
St.  Gotthard  against  the  French.  He  desired  to  join  the 
other  Russian  army,  at  or  near  Zurich.  But,  having  reached 
Altdorf,  he  found  his  way  blocked,  for  the  French  had  seized 
all  the  boats  on  the  Lake  of  Lucerne,  and  no  road  then  existed 
along  the  E.  shore  of  the  lake.  He  was  therefore  forced  to 
cross  (September  27-8)  the  Kinzigkulm  Fass  (681 1  ft.)  to 
the  head  of  the  Muota  valley.  But  his  progress  down  that 
valley  towards  Schwyz  was  stopped  after  a  bloody  battle  with 
the  French.  So  he  had  again  to  '  double  back '  and  to  cross 
(last  days  of  September  and  first  of  October)  the  Pragel  Fass 
(5099  ft.)  to  Glarus,  hoping  thence  to  follow  the  Linth  or 
Limmat  valley  direct  to  Zurich.  But  he  was  once  more  foiled 
by  the  French  commanders  and  compelled  to  cross  yet  a  third 
pass  (October  5-6),  the  Fanixer  Fass  (7897  ft.),  in  order  to  gain 
the  Rhine  valley,  above  Coire,  and  so  was  able  to  rejoin  his 
friends  at  Feldkirch,  two  days  later.  None  of  these  passes 
(all  well  known  to  the  present  \vriter)  is  in  itself  really  difficult, 
save  the  steep  N.  side  of  the  Panixer,  but  they  offer  great 
obstacles  to  the  passage  of  a  considerable  army,   harassed  by 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       179 

a  watchful  enemy,  and  much  hindered  by  the  bad  weather  of 
a  stormy  autumn,  so  that  Suvoroff's  feat  is  one  of  the  most 
remarkable  recorded  in  the  military  history  of  the  Alps. 

The  next  pass  over  the  main  chain  on  our  list  is  the 
Lukmanier  (6289  ft.),  leading  from  the  great  Benedictine 
monastery  of  Disentis,  near  the  head  of  the  Vorder  Rhine 
valley,  by  the  Middle  Rhine  valley  and  the  Val  Blenio  to 
Biasca,  on  the  St.  Gotthard  route.  But,  save  for  a  short  time 
in  the  nineteenth  century  (1839-1880),  when  it  was  doubtful 
whether  the  great  railway  tunnel  beneath  the  Central  Alps 
should  be  pierced  under  the  Lukmanier  or  the  St.  Gotthard, 
the  Lukmanier  has  always  been  overshadowed  by  its  greater 
neighbours,  so  that  its  real  historical  importance  relates  to  the 
period  when  these  rivals  were  little  known  or  traversed  by 
bad  roads  or  paths.  However  it  was  crossed  by  Otto  i.  in  965 
and  by  Henry  11.  in  1004,  as  well  as  by  Frederick  i.  in  1146 
and  again  in  1186,  and  by  Sigismund  in  143 1  (perhaps  in 
141 3  also) — we  thus  again  come  across  the  Emperor  whom  we 
heard  of  on  the  Great  St.  Bernard.  About  1374  the  reigning 
abbat  of  Disentis  (who  in  1570  became  a  Prince  of  the 
Empire)  built  two  Hospices  (there  were  five  in  all)  on  the  route, 
one,  that  of  Santa  Maria,  being  on  the  summit  of  the  pass — 
it  still  exists  as  a  modest  inn,  and  the  pass  is  thence  sometimes 
named  the  '  Pass  of  St.  Mary ' ;  another  name  for  the  pass  is 
the  '  Pass  of  St.  Barnabas,'  owing  to  its  close  connection  with 
the  see  of  Milan,  to  which  the  Val  Blenio,  like  the  Val 
Leventina,  belonged,  and  also  to  the  dedication  of  one  of  the 
Hospices,  this  one  being  situated  at  Casaccia  on  the  E.  slope  of 
the  pass.  But  the  foundation  of  these  Hospices  by  the  abbat 
of  Disentis  emphasises  the  character  of  our  pass,  as,  after  the 
opening  of  the  St.  Gotthard,  a  feeble  rival  of  that  great  highway, 
but  especially  useful  for  the  Rsetians  as  a  means  of  communica- 
tion with  their  Swiss  allies  in  the  Italian  bailiwicks,  after  their 
conquest  in  the  fifteenth  century.  In  1 581  St.  Charles  Borromeo 
crossed  the  Lukmanier.  As  early  as  1780  the  abbat  of  Disentis 
began  the  construction  of  a  road  across  his  pass.  But  there 
were  formidable  technical  difficulties  in  the  gorge  through  which 


i8o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

(or  above  which)  one  must  mount  from  Disentis  to  Curaglia, 
the  first  village.  Finally,  a  remarkable  road  through  this  gorge 
and  across  to  Olivone,  at  the  head  of  the  Val  Blenio,  was 
constructed  187 1-7,  but,  though  well  worthy  of  being  seen,  it 
has  failed  to  attract  tourists.  The  Lukmanier  is  now  quite  off 
the  main  line  of  traffic,  serving  only  as  a  local  route,  the 
St.  Gotthard  having  drawn  to  itself  most  of  the  traffic  (never 
a  very  great  stream)  that  dribbled  over  the  Lukmanier. 

We  come  next  to  the  three  passes  which  lead  direct  from 
Coire  to  Italy,  which  is  reached  at  Como  by  the  San  Bernardino, 
but  at  Chiavenna  by  the  Spliigen  and  the  Septimer. 

The  San  Bernardino  (6769  ft.)  route,  like  that  of  the  Spliigen, 
follows  the  course  of  the  main  or  Hinter  Rhine  nearly  to  its 
sources,  and  then  turns  S.  to  cross  the  Alps.  Throughout  the 
entire  Middle  Ages  it  bore  the  name  of  the  'mons  avium,' 
'  Vogelberg,'  or  '  Monte  Uccello  '  {i.e.  the  ^  pass  of  the  birds,' 
in  three  languages),  and  to  this  day  there  rises  some  way  to 
its  W.  a  peak  called  the  Vogelberg,  while  on  the  E.  the  pass  is 
overhung  by  another  point,  named  the  Pizzo  Uccello.  But 
some  time  in  the  second  half  of  the  fifteenth  century,  this 
name  gave  way  to  the  present  one,  given  in  honour  of  San 
Bernardino  of  Siena,  who  had  wandered  through  the  N.  parts 
of  Lombardy  as  a  missionary  preacher  and  was  canonised  in 
1450,  six  years  after  his  death — a  chapel  on  the  S.  slope  of  the 
pass  was  dedicated  to  him.  It  is  possible  that  the  left  wing  of 
the  Frankish  army  crossed  this  pass  in  590  on  its  w-ay  to  attack 
the  Lombards.  More  certain  is  it  that  in  the  winter  of  941  Willa 
(wife  of  Berengar,  Marquess  of  Ivrea),  though  far  advanced  in 
pregnancy,  fled  across  it,  to  escape  from  Hugh,  king  of  Italy. 
Much  later,  in  the  winter  of  1799,  Lecourbe,  with  a  French 
army,  traversed  the  pass.  But  no  doubt,  it,  like  the  Spliigen, 
was  kept  for  long  in  the  background  through  the  difficulties  of 
getting  through  or  round  the  Via  Mala  gorge,  above  Thusis. 
Probably  it  served  only  the  local  traffic  between  the  German- 
speaking  colony  at  the  sources  of  the  Rhine  with  the  Italian 
bailiwicks  held  by  the  Swiss,  especially  after,  in  1496,  the  Val 
Mesocco  (on  its  S.  slope)  came  into  the  hands  of  the  Ra3tians, 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       i8i 

who  thus  had  direct  access  to  the  St.  Gotthard  route.  In 
1818-1823  the  present  fine  carriage  road  was  built  over  the 
pass,  and,  like  that  of  the  St.  Gotthard,  lies  for  its  whole 
length  within  Swiss  territory.  Most  of  the  expenses  were 
borne  by  the  king  of  Sardinia,  who  wished  to  secure  for  him- 
self a  road  across  the  Alps,  which  should  not  be  in  the  hands 
of  the  Habsburgers. 

A  little  to  the  E.  of  the  San  Bernardino  is  the  Splilgen  Pass 
(6946  ft.).     Though  possibly  mentioned  by  the  Peutinger  Table 
(fourth  century)  under  the  still   unexplained  name   of  '  Cunu 
aureu,'  this  pass  has  scarcely  had  a  more  eventful  history  than 
the    San    Bernardino,    both   having   been    overshadowed    (till 
carriage  roads  were  built  across  them)  by  the  Septimer.     Its 
mediaeval  name  was  the  '  Urschler '  (mount  of  bears),  perhaps 
given  in  contrast  to  the  '  mount  of  birds  '  or  the  San  Bernardino. 
The  first   rough    road  which    traversed   the  S.  bit  of  the   Via 
Mala   was   constructed   as   far  back  as  1473,  apparently  with 
the   desire  to  set  up  a  rival  to  the  route   over   the  Septimer, 
that  was  entirely  in   the  hands  of  the   Bishop  of  Coire.     But 
the  Via  Mala  was  only  rendered  practicable  throughout,  when, 
1818-1823,  the  road  was  constructed  over  the  pass  itself;  the 
chief  difficulty,  apart  from  that  gorge,  was  the  Cardenello  gorge 
on  the  S.  side,  where,  in  the  early  winter  of  1800,  the  French, 
under  Marshal  Macdonald,  encountered  very  great  difficulties. 
This  road  increased  the  number  of  travellers  who  crossed  the 
pass    (the   commercial    importance  of  which  was  never  great 
despite  the  almost  total  absence  of  tolls),  for,  even  to-day,  it  is 
(with  the  exceptions  of  the  rather  longer  San  Bernardino  and 
the  much  longer  Lukmanier)  the  one  carriage  road  by  which 
it  is  possible  to  go  from  Rstia  (the  Grisons)  to  Italy,  crossing 
one   ridge  only  (the  roads  through  the   Engadine  involve  the 
passage  of  two  ridges,  while  the  Septimer  has  never  yet  obtained 
a  carriage  road).     The  valley  of  San  Giacomo,  on  the  S.  side 
of    the  pass,    is   now    Italian,    but   from    151 2    to    1797  (with 
Chiavenna)  it  belonged  to  the  Three  Rsetian  Leagues  who  had 
taken  it  from  the  Milanese — it  had  formed  part  of  the  Cisalpine 
or  Italian  Republics  from  1797  to  1805,  and  of  the  Napoleonic 


i82     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

kingdom  of  Italy  from  1805  to  1814,  when  it  fell  (with  Chiavenna 
etc.)  to  the  Habsburgers  of  Milan,  who  only  lost  it  in  1859  to 
the  Sardinian  king  soon  to  rule  over  united  Italy. 

By  far  the  most  important  historically  of  all  the  Grisons 
Alpine  passes  is  the  Septinier  {^']^Z2  ft.),  though  nowadays  it  is 
hardly  known  even  by  name.  Yet  in  1128  it  was  reported 
(not  quite  accurately)  to  be  the  mountain  in  which  both  the 
Rhine  and  the  Inn  take  their  source  ;  it  is  mentioned  in  the 
thirteenth  century  by  the  poet  Gottfried  of  Strassburg  in  his 
Tristan,  and  in  1330  it  was  said  to  mark  the  limit  between 
Germany  and  Lombardy,  while  early  in  the  fourteenth  century 
it  was  noted  as  one  of  the  boundaries  of  the  possessions 
of  the  Habsburgers.  In  itself  it  is  an  extremely  easy  pass, 
leading  from  Bivio-Stalla  (not  far  from  the  W.  foot  of  the 
Julier  Pass)  to  Casaccia,  at  the  W.  foot  of  the  Maloja,  and  the 
highest  village  in  the  Val  Bregaglia,  down  which  one  goes 
direct  to  Chiavenna.  It  is  also  easily  reached  from  both  sides. 
On  the  N.  slope,  there  were  two  routes  from  Coire  to  Bivio- 
Stalla — the  more  arduous  led  by  a  path  from  Thusis  over  the 
slopes  N.  of  the  gorge  now  known  as  the  Schyn  Pass  to 
Tiefenkastell,  where  it  was  joined  by  the  easier,  which  had 
come  from  Coire  past  the  twelfth  century  Premonstratensian 
monastery  of  Churwalden  and  over  the  Lenzerheide  (a  great 
tract  of  heath),  5089  ft. ;  both  routes  thus  avoided  the  horrors 
of  the  Via  Mala  by  which  the  Spliigen  and  the  San  Bernardino 
were  necessarily  attained.  From  Bivio  the  slope  giving  access 
to  the  pass  is  gradual,  while  the  descent  on  the  S.  side  to 
Casaccia,  though  steeper  than  the  ascent,  is  short  and  direct, 
the  fertile  Val  Bregaglia  being  soon  gained.  It  was  thus  not 
necessary  to  cross  more  than  one  ridge  on  the  journey,  while 
(and  herein  lay  the  great  practical  advantage  of  the  pass)  the 
entire  route  from  Coire  till  near  Chiavenna  (as  well  as  to  that 
town  and  down  to  the  head  of  the  Lake  of  Como,  from  15 12  to 
1797)  was  in  the  hands  (directly  or  through  his  vassals)  of  the 
Bishop  of  Coire,  the  most  powerful  of  the  many  Rjetian  feudal 
lords.  It  was  therefore  the  interest  of  the  bishop  to  facilitate 
the  transit  across  this  pass,  as  thereby  he  (or  his  guarantees) 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       183 

obtained  more  revenues  from  tolls  and  way  dues.  It  is  there- 
fore not  surprising  to  hear  that  in  1359  the  reigning  bishop  (who 
happened  to  be  the  Imperial  Chancellor)  prevailed  on  the 
Emperor  Charles  iv.  to  issue  a  formal  prohibition  to  use  any 
other  Alpine  road  in  the  region  but  this. 

Tlie  pass  is  mentioned  in  Roman  times  by  both  the  Antonine 
Itinerary  and  the  Peutinger  Table.  The  first  recorded  passage 
was  that  of  Landulus,  Bishop  of  Treviso,  in  895,  while  in  the 
same  year  we  hear  of  two  Roman  musicians,  who  crossed  on 
their  way  from  Rome  to  St.  Gall  (to  improve  the  church  music 
there),  one  of  whom  fell  very  ill  on  the  way  over  the  pass. 
Many  Emperors  traversed  this  pass,  the  number  being  only 
exceeded  by  those  w-ho  took  the  route  by  the  Brenner  or  by 
the  Great  St.  Bernard.  In  fact,  in  the  earlier  Middle  Ages  the 
Septimer  was  the  great  route  from  Germany  into  Italy.  The 
first  mention  of  a  Hospice  (never  a  large  one)  on  the  pass  dates 
from  831,  but  it  was  refounded  in  the  early  twelfth  century  by 
the  Bishop  of  Coire,  and  rebuilt  in  1542:  it  is  now  in  ruins, 
though  there  is  some  idea  of  reconstructing  it  for  the  use  of 
skiers,  the  new  sort  of  winter  pilgrims  in  this  region.  Remains 
of  a  solidly  built  paved  track  are  found  at  various  points  on 
the  route  over  this  pass.  It  was  long  thought  that  they  dated 
back  to  Roman  times,  but  it  has  now  been  shown  that  they 
formed  part  of  the  new  cart  track  constructed  in  1387  by  Jacob 
von  Castelmur,  a  high  episcopal  official  (and  grantee  of  the 
tolls  over  the  pass)  in  the  Val  Bregaglia.  The  tolls  levied  on 
this  route  produced  great  sums.  But  naturally,  after  the 
construction,  in  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century,  of  good 
carriage  roads  over  the  Spliigen,  the  San  Bernardino,  the 
Julier,  and  the  Maloja,  the  great  advantage  of  the  Septimer 
disappeared,  and  the  pass  is  now  visited  only  by  a  few  curious 
wanderers.  Yet,  in  its  time,  it  was  more  than  a  rival  of  the 
greatest  Alpine  passes. 

As  hinted  above,  the  passes  leading  to  and  from  the 
Engadine  have  merely  a  local  interest,  save  the  Qfen,  with  the 
Fliiela,  its  continuation,  and  (in  the  Eastern  Alps)  the  Reschen 
Scheideck.      Even  the  opening  (1903)  of  the  railway  under 


i84     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  Albula  Pass  (7595  ft.)  meant  simply  an  easier  route  to  the 
Engadine,  and  not  the  opening  of  a  great  international  route 
across  the  Alps,  and  the  same  will  be  true  when  a  line  is 
constructed  over  the  Maloja  Pass  (5935  ft.)  from  the  head 
of  the  Engadine  to  Chiavenna.  As  there  still  exist  many 
misapprehensions  on  the  subject,  it  may  be  worth  while  to 
explain  the  real  historical  origin  of  the  two  rude  pillars  called 
Julius'  columns,  which  stand  on  the  summit  of  the  Julier  Pass 
(7504  ft.).  It  is  known  that  in  1396  and  1407  a  single  column 
rose  here,  as  a  boundary  stone,  that  between  1538  and  1572 
it  was  broken  into  three  bits,  that  one  of  these  bits  disappeared 
in  some  unknown  fashion,  and  that  some  time  between  16 18 
and  1703  another  bit  was  set  up  as  a  second  column — these 
dates  are  taken  from  contemporary  writers  who  either  visited 
the  pass  themselves  or  had  trustworthy  reports  from  those 
who  had  been  there.  The  natural  continuation  of  the  Julier 
is  either  the  Maloja  to  Chiavenna,  or  the  Bernina  Pass 
(7645  ft.)  to  the  Valtelline. 

In  the  tangled  country  E.  of  the  Bernina  Pass  the  Passo  di 
Val  Viola  (7976  ft.)  leads  from  near  the  summit  of  the  Bernina 
Pass  to  Bormio.  But  more  important  historically,  in  connection 
with  Rohan's  campaign  of  1635  against  the  Imperial  troops,  are 
the  passes  leading  from  the  Livigno  valley  (still  Italian,  though 
on  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps  and  sending  its  waters  by  the  Spol 
to  the  Inn  at  Zernetz)  in  various  directions — the  Forcola  di 
Livig?io  (7638  ft.)  S.  to  the  Bernina  Pass,  the  Casana  Pass 
(8832  ft.)  W.  to  Scanfs,  in  the  Upper  Engadine,  and  the 
Alpisella  Pass  (7497  ft.)  E.  past  the  sources  of  the  Adda  and 
through  the  Fraele  glen  to  Bormio. 

Let  us  now  go  on  to  the  Ofen  Pass  (7071  ft.)  which  leads 
from  Zernetz  in  the  Lower  Engadine  to  the  Miinster  valley,  and 
so  on  to  the  Vintschgau  or  upper  valley  of  the  Adige  in  the 
Tyrol,  while  from  Siis,  in  the  Lower  Engadine,  about  four  miles 
below  Zernetz,  the  Flikla  Pass  (7838  ft.)  leads  over  to  Davos, 
and  then  down  the  Landquart  valley  to  the  Rhine  valley, 
which  is  gained  about  nine  miles  above  Coire.  These  two 
passes  thus  formed  a  direct  and  comparatively  easy  route  from 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       185 

Coire  to  the  Tyrol,  even  after,  in  1652,  the  Lower  Engadine 
ceased  to  be  Tyrolese,  and  became  Swiss.  By  means  of  the 
second  pass  in  particular,  the  Bishop  of  Coire  was  long  able 
to  maintain  his  authority  in  the  Vintschgau,  and  in  the 
Miinster  valley.  This  route  was  possibly  taken  in  12 12  by  the 
Emperor  Frederick  11.  (who  more  probably  went  by  way  of  the 
Tonale,  Aprica,  and  Septimer  Passes),  and  by  Sigismund  in 
141 3.  But  of  course  it  was  rather  out  of  the  way,  lying  as  it 
did  between  the  far  more  frequented  tracks  over  the  Septimer, 
the  Umbrail  Pass,  and  the  Brenner.  The  Ofen  Pass  takes  its 
name  from  some  iron  mines  ('ovens'  or  'Fuorn,'  furnaces) 
worked  near  it  in  the  sixteenth  century  and  earlier,  but  is  often 
wrongly  called  the  Buffalora  Pass,  that  name  properly  belonging 
to  another  pass  (7723  ft.,  also  called  Giufplan)  that  leads  to 
Bormio  through  the  Fraele  glen.  The  road  over  the  Ofen  was 
built  in  1870-1,  and  that  over  the  Fliiela  in  1867,  but  the  inn 
near  the  Ofen  Pass  was  well  known  in  the  sixteenth  century, 
while  the  Hospice  on  the  Fliiela  is  also  far  older  than  the 
carriage  road.  Still  farther  down  the  Lower  Engadine  is  the 
easy  glacier  Fernwnt  Pass  (9193  ft.),  formerly  much  frequented 
and  leading  from  Guarda  in  the  Lower  Engadine  to  the  head  of 
the  Montafon  valley  in  the  Vorarlberg,  and  so  to  Bludenz 
on  the  Arlberg  route,  or  across  the  lower  Bielerhohe  Pass 
(6631  ft.)  to  the  Tyrolese  Paznaun  valley,  and  so  to 
Landeck. 

Our  last  pass  in  the  Central  Alps  is  the  Umbrail  Pass  (8242 
ft.),  which  of  old  bore  also  the  names  of  'mons  Braulius' 
(from  St.  Braulius,  Bishop  of  Saragossa,  in  the  seventh  century) 
and  of  'Juga  Raetica,'  as  well  as  of  'Wormserjoch'  {i.e.  the 
pass  to  Bormio,  the  German  name  of  which  is  'Worms').  It 
leads  from  the  head  of  the  Adige  valley  or  the  Vintschgau  by 
the  Miinster  valley  to  Bormio,  at  the  head  of  the  Adda  valley  or 
the  Valtelline.  On  the  S.  side  a  short  descent  gives  access  at 
the  fourth  Cantoniera  to  the  route  over  the  Stelvio  Pass  or 
Stilfserjoch  (9055  ft.).  But  as  the  N.  slope  of  the  Stelvio  is  very 
steep  and  rugged,  while  that  of  the  Umbrail  is  comparatively 
easy,  the  last  named  was,  throughout  the  Middle  Ages,  the  main 


i86     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

route  from  the  Vintschgau  direct  to  the  Lake  of  Como.  The 
Stelvio  was,  indeed,  crossed  now  and  then  by  armies  (1496, 
1 63 1,  1634,)  but  served  as  a  pass  only  in  case  of  necessity. 
The  roles  of  the  two  passes  were  reversed,  at  any  rate  for  a  time, 
when  the  Austrian  Government  (which  had  in  181 4  received  the 
Valtelline,  while  in  1762  it  had  parted  with  the  upper  Miinster 
valley  to  Switzerland)  built  (1820-5)  the  magnificent  carriage 
road  over  the  Stelvio,  which  is  still  the  loftiest  carriage  road  in 
the  Alps.  Much  more  recently  the  Swiss  Government  has  con- 
structed ( 1 900-1)  a  good  carriage  road  over  the  Umbrail  from 
the  Miinster  valley  to  the  fourth  Cantoniera  on  the  Stelvio, 
such  a  road  having  been  planned  (it  is  said)  by  Napoleon,  who 
selected  that  route  rather  than  the  Stelvio :  this  road  is  the 
third  highest  carriage  road  in  the  Alps  (it  is  the  highest  in 
Switzerland),  that  over  the  Col  du  GaHbier  (8721  ft.),  in  the 
Dauphine  Alps,  coming  between  it  and  the  Stelvio.  By  a 
curious  coincidence  none  of  these  three  passes  traverses  the 
main  ridge  of  the  Alps,  each  leading  over  one  of  its  lateral  spurs. 
It  should  be  borne  in  mind  that  between  1762  (purchase  of  the 
upper  Miinster  valley)  and  1797  (loss  of  the  Valtelline),  the 
whole  way  over  the  Umbrail  belonged  to  the  Three  Rstian 
Leagues,  that  is,  practically  to  Switzerland.  Now,  of  course, 
since  1859,  the  S.  slope  of  that  pass,  as  well  as  of  the  Stelvio,  is 
Italian.  The  Umbrail  Pass  served  mainly  the  local  trade 
between  the  Vintschgau  and  the  Valtelline.  But  it  obtained 
considerable  political  importance  during  the  long  struggle,  1620- 
1639  (briefly  noticed  in  Chapter  vii.),  for  the  Valtelline,  the  valley 
which  enabled  the  Habsburgers  of  the  Tyrol  to  communicate 
directly  with  the  Habsburgers  of  Milan.  Naturally,  the  com- 
mercial importance  of  both  the  Umbrail  and  of  the  Stelvio  was 
practically  destroyed  when  in  1864-7,  the  wholly  Austrian  railway 
was  opened  over  the  Brenner  Pass,  as  the  Vintschgau  trade  of 
course  flowed  E.S.E.  down  the  Adige  valley  to  Botzen,  on  that 
line,  while  that  of  the  Valtelline  (Italian  since  1859)  as  natur- 
ally found  its  outlet  westwards  in  the  direction  of  the  Lake  of 
Como.  But  in  the  Middle  Ages  the  Umbrail  was  the  great 
route  between   the   aforesaid   regions,  and  indeed  to  districts 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       187 

more  to   the  N.   by  way  of   the  Reschen  Scheideck   and  the 
Arlberg  Passes,  of  which  we  will  speak  presently. 


III. — The  Eastern  Alps 

In  this  division  of  the  great  Alpine  chain  the  Brentier  Pass 
(4495  ft.)  occupies  a  position  of  far  greater  importance  than 
does  any  single  pass  in  either  the  Western  or  the  Central  Alps. 
Many  of  the  other  passes  in  the  Eastern  Alps  (such  as  the 
Reschen  Scheideck,  the  Arlberg,  the  Tonale,  the  Aprica,  even 
the  Ampezzo,  and  the  Plocken)  stand  to  it  in  the  light  of 
feeders  or  branches,  and  can  scarcely  claim  an  independent 
position  of  their  own.  The  case  only  alters  as  we  get  still 
farther  E.,  when  the  Alps  spread  out  (to  use  a  comparison 
already  employed  in  these  pages)  like  the  sticks  of  a  fan,  so  that 
the  traveller,  after  leaving  the  plains  of  Italy,  and  before  reach- 
ing those  of  Austria,  has  to  cross  three  ridges — the  first  by  the 
Ampezzo,  the  Monte  Croce  (Plocken),  the  Pontebba  (Saifnitz), 
or  the  Predil  Passes ;  the  second  by  the  Radstadter  Tauern  ; 
and  the  third  by  the  Pyhrn  Pass  or  through  the  Lueg  gorge. 
Finally,  at  the  extreme  E.  limit  of  these  ridges  we  find  the 
Birnbaumer  Wald  and  the  Semmering,  both  rather  methods  of 
getting  round  the  last  spurs  of  the  Alps  than  of  crossing  them, 
and  so  parallel  with  the  route  from  Genoa  to  Marseilles  along 
the  edge  of  the  Mediterranean,  rather  than  with  Alpine  passes 
strictly  so  called. 

The  history  of  the  Brenner  Pass  is  almost  co-extensive  mth 
that  of  the  Eastern  Alps,  or  of  the  relations  between  Germany 
and  Italy,  whether  they  be  looked  at  from  a  political,  a  com- 
mercial, or  a  military  point  of  view.  By  far  the  lowest  of  all  the 
Alpine  passes  across  the  main  chain  of  the  Alps,  reached  on 
either  side  by  straight-drawn  valleys  leading  up  to  a  single 
ridge,  it  forms  a  natural  highway  over  the  Alps.  Its  authentic 
recorded  history  starts  with  the  passage  (b.c.  15)  of  Drusus,  the 
stepson  of  Augustus,  on  his  way  to  conquer  the  northern  Bar- 
barians, and  among  them  the  tribe  of  the  Breones,  or  Breuni, 


iS8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

which  gave  its  name  for  ever  to  the  pass,  and  had  its  name  em- 
balmed in  the  verses  of  Horace.  Later  on,  the  Brenner  became 
a  great  route  by  means  of  which  the  Romans  pursued  and 
attained  many  mihtary  and  commercial  successes.  Most  pro- 
bably it  was  the  pass  over  which  the  Barbarians  poured  in  the 
fifth  century  towards  the  fertile  plains  of  Italy,  and  (as  pointed 
out  at  the  commencement  of  this  chapter)  the  route  'per  Alpes 
Noricas'  (our  pass  without  a  doubt)  was  expressly  mentioned 
by  Charles  the  Great  when  elaborating  in  806  his  scheme  for 
the  division  of  his  Empire  among  his  sons.  Still  later,  it  was 
over  the  Brenner  that  the  vast  majority  of  the  Emperors  went  on 
their  way  to  or  from  Rome,  so  that  on  at  least  one-half  of 
these  expeditions  (dating  from  the  ninth  to  the  fifteenth  cen- 
turies) the  route  selected  was  that  over  our  pass.  Gradually,  as 
minor  feudal  lords  gave  way  to  the  dynasty  of  the  Counts  of  the 
Tyrol,  the  Brenner  became  more  and  more  a  specifically  Tyrolese 
pass,  especially  when  in  1363  the  county  of  the  Tyrol  passed  into 
the  hands  of  the  powerful  family  of  the  Habsburgers.  Being 
thus  held  by  a  single  dynasty,  capable  of  pushing  its  interests, 
this  great  highway,  though  it  lost  in  a  way  its  character  as  a 
route  open  to  all  nations,  yet  prospered  because  of  the  atten- 
tion that  its  new  owners  devoted  to  improving  the  means  of 
communication  across  it.  The  quaint  old  track,  constructed 
(or  at  any  rate  greatly  improved)  between  13 14-17  by  the 
enterprising  Heinrich  Kunter,  burgher  of  Botzen,  meant  that 
the  old  Roman  path  high  above  the  gorges  between  Klausen 
and  Botzen  was  abandoned  in  favour  of  a  path  in  the  Eisack 
valley  itself.  Yet  this  new  track  was  very  rough  and  bad,  so 
that  not  unfrequently  travellers  preferred  the  short  cut  from  the 
Brenner  over  the  Jaufen  Pass,  6870  ft.  (called,  like  the  Great 
St.  Bernard,  '  mons  Jovis ' — in  the  Middle  Ages  the  name  took 
the  form  of  '  Jouven '),  which  was  probably  known  to  the 
Romans,  to  the  Adige  valley  that  was  reached  at  Meran. 
Further,  the  rise  of  the  Venetian  power  on  the  mainland  in  the 
early  fifteenth  century  threatened  the  prosperity  of  the  Brenner, 
for  the  route  naturally  preferred  by  the  Venetian  rulers  was  that 
over  the  Ampezzo  Pass  (5066  ft.),  by  Belluno,  the  Piave  valley, 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       189 

and  past  Cortina  to  Toblach,  close  to  the  Toblach  Pass{i^e^  ft.) 
leading  from  the  Brenner  route  to  the  head  of  the  Drave  valley. 
That  road  kept  the  merchants  on  their  journeys  for  the  longest 
distance  in  Venetian  territory,  while  it  was  early  passable  for 
light  carriages  and  carts.  Hence  from  1483  onwards  the  old 
Kunter  track  was  greatly  improved  by  Sigismund,  the  reigning 
Count  of  the  Tyrol,  gunpowder  being  employed  to  remove 
various  obstacles,  so  that  this  track  also  became  passable  for 
carriages  and  carts.  His  efforts  were  seconded,  towards  the 
N.,  by  the  rulers  of  Bavaria.  But  it  was  not  till  much  later,  in 
1772,  that  a  modern  carriage  road  was  constructed  across  the 
pass.  Naturally,  after  the  Habsburgers  secured  (1803,  finally 
1814)  the  territories  of  the  Bishops  of  Trent  and  Brixen,  still 
more  attention  was  paid  to  our  pass,  which  now  became  a  most 
important  means  of  communication  between  Austria  proper  and 
the  Milanese  and  the  Veneto,  held  from  18 15  onwards  by  the 
sovereigns  of  Austria.  Yet  when  this  political  convenience 
had  ceased  to  be  of  practical  interest  (the  Milanese  and  the  W. 
Veneto  were  lost  to  Austria  in  1859  and  the  E.  Veneto  in 
1866),  the  commercial  advantages  of  the  pass  were  such  that, 
between  1864  and  1867,  ^  railway  was  constructed  across  it, 
this  being  the  first  line  carried  over  the  Alps,  while  the  carriage 
road  of  1772  had  also  been  the  first  of  its  kind. 

Something  must  now  be  said  as  to  the  side  passes  which  we 
have  described  above  as  '  feeders '  or  branches  of  the  great  high- 
A^ay  of  the  Brenner, 

{a)  To  the  W.  there  are  two  pairs  of  passes,  each  item  of 
which  taken  alone  has  but  local  importance,  though  if  the  two 
composing  each  pair  are  crossed,  a  route  is  more  or  less  made 
to  the  other  side  of  certain  mountain  chains. 

The  first  pair  is  made  up  of  the  Tonale  Pass  (61S1  ft.) 
and  of  the  Aprica  Pass  (3875  ft.).  The  road  over  the  former 
leaves  the  Adige  valley  a  little  to  the  N.  of  Trent  in  order  to 
mount  the  Noce  valley  (called  in  its  lower  half  the  Val  di  Non 
or  Nonsberg,  and  in  its  upper  half,  the  Val  di  Sole  or  Sulzberg) 
past  Cles  (where  falls  in  the  road  from  Botzen  over  the  Mendel 
Pass,  4462  ft.)  to   the   pass  (not  far  from  which,  on  the  old 


I90     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

track,  is  the  Hospice  of  St.  Bartholomew,  founded  in  1127), 
whence  it  descends  to  Edolo,  at  the  head  of  the  Val  Camonica 
or  of  the  OgHo,  that  runs  down  to  the  Lake  of  Iseo.  From 
Edolo  the  low  Aprica  Pass  gives  access  to  the  Valtelline,  which 
is  reached  a  little  below  Tirano.  Any  one  who  combines  these 
two  passes  finds  that  he  must  cross  yet  another,  such  as  the 
Septimer,  in  order  to  reach  the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps.  But 
formerly  the  practical  convenience  of  this  route  was  that  it  lay 
entirely,  save  the  bits  near  Edolo  (which  are  in  the  Bergamasca, 
and  so  were  Venetian  1428-1797,  and  Austrian  1815-1859) 
within  the  dominions  of  the  Prince-bishops  of  Trent  and  Coire. 
Hence  it  would  naturally  be  taken  by  any  traveller  who  found 
the  Brenner  blocked  to  him,  but  enjoyed  the  friendship  of 
either  or  both.  Such  seems  to  have  been  the  case  of  the 
Emperor  Frederick  11.  in  1212,  who  apparently  crossed  these 
two  passes  on  the  way  from  Trent  to  Coire,  being  accompanied 
in  his  hurried  journey  by  the  bishops  of  these  two  cities. 
Apparently  Frederick  i.  in  11 66  did  the  same,  but  Charles  iv. 
in  1355  crossed  the  Aprica  only,  while  in  1327  Louis  the 
Bavarian  went  from  Trent  to  Bergamo  over  the  Tonale. 

The  second  pair  of  passes  is  formed  by  those  of  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  (4902  ft.)  and  the  Arlberg  (5912  ft.).  The  former 
leads  from  Botzen  past  Meran  through  the  Vintschgau  or  upper 
Adige  valley  to  the  Inn  valley,  that  is  descended  to  Landeck  on 
the  Arlberg  route,  which  thence  bears  due  W.  and  reaches  the 
Rhine  valley  at  Feldkirch,  some  way  S.  of  Bregenz.  The 
former  pass  taken  alone  is  simply  a  parallel  way  to  that  over 
the  Brenner,  while  the  second,  if  taken  alone,  is  the  direct  road 
from  Innsbruck  to  the  Vorarlberg.  Combined,  they  form  a  rather 
more  direct  route,  from  Botzen  to  Constance,  than  the  Brenner, 
The  Reschen  Scheideck  is  now  usually  known  by  that  name. 
But  formerly  it  was  often  called  the  '  Malserheide,'  from  the 
great  heathy  tract  on  its  S.  slope,  above  the  ancient  town  of 
Mais,  while  another  name,  that  of  Finstermiinz  Pass,  was 
derived  from  the  narrow  gorge  at  its  N.  foot,  through  which  it 
was  necessary  to  pass  from  Martinsbruck  (now  the  last  hamlet 
in  the  Swiss  Lower  Engadine,  but  till  1652   in  the  Tyrol)  to 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       191 

Pfunds  (at  its  E.  end),  now  reached  direct  from  the  pass 
itself  by  a  splendidly  engineered  road,  carried  high  above 
the  gorge.  An  ancient  tower  in  the  gorge  proves  its  early 
importance,  as  formerly  one  had  to  pass  it,  along  the  bank  of  the 
wild  Inn,  here  enclosed  between  two  lofty  rock  walls.  The 
Hospice  of  St.  Valentine  on  the  Reschen  Scheideck  was 
founded  in  1140,  but  on  the  very  summit  of  the  pass  there  is 
now  a  village,  Reschen,  inhabited  all  the  year  round.  This 
pass  was  of  historical  importance  in  the  Middle  Ages,  when  the 
Bishop  of  Coire  was  struggling  to  maintain  his  footing  in  the 
Vintschgau  against  the  rising  power  of  the  Counts  of  the  Tyrol. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  Arlberg  (first  mentioned  in  1218  as  a 
frequented  pass)  acquired  more  importance  at  a  later  period, 
especially  after  1363,  when  the  Habsburgers  obtained  the 
Tyrol,  and  then  added  to  their  domains  first  (1375)  Feldkirch, 
then  (1394)  Bludenz  and  the  Montafon  valley,  and  finally  (145 1 
and  1523)  the  county  of  Bregenz,  thus  establishing  their  power 
firmly  in  the  district  '  before '  the  Arlberg  Pass  (when  looked 
at  from  the  point  of  view  of  a  traveller  on  his  way  to  Innsbruck) 
on  the  right  bank  of  the  Rhine,  between  Coire  and  the  Lake 
of  Constance.  It  has  been  contended  that  the  Arlberg  was 
traversed  by  a  Roman  road,  but  this  view  does  not  seem  to 
be  supported  by  sufficient  evidence.  Yet  as  early  as  945 
Berengar  11.,  king  of  Italy,  seems  to  have  crossed  both  our 
passes  on  his  way  from  Swabia  to  Botzen.  A  mule  path 
was  built  over  the  Arlberg  in  1309,  and  the  Hospice  of  St. 
Christopher  founded  in  1385,  the  chief  utility  of  the  pass 
being  the  transport  of  salt  from  the  mines  of  Hall  near  Inns- 
bruck. This  path  must  have  been  improved  by  1414,  when  we 
hear  that  the  Pope  John  xxiii.,  on  the  way  to  the  Council  of 
Constance,  had  the  misfortune  to  have  his  light  carriage  upset, 
and  so  was  thrown  out  into  the  snow  (it  was  the  month  of 
October).  In  1499  ^.nd  again  during  the  Wars  of  1632-4 
efforts  were  made  to  improve  the  track,  but  they  were  simply 
sporadic  and  led  to  no  permanent  results.  The  actual  carriage 
road  was  constructed  at  intervaL  between  1785  and  1824 
(though  improved  in  1848-9)  to  meet  the  competition  of  the 


192     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Swiss,  who  desired  to  divert  traffic  from  Feldkirch  to  the 
Thurgau,  while  the  railway  which  burrows  beneath  the  pass  was 
built  in  1880-4.  But  it  may  be  stated  generally  that,  till  recently, 
the  Arlberg  was  mainly  a  '  salt  pass,'  and  comparatively  little 
attention  was  paid  to  the  maintenance  of  the  track,  particularly 
on  the  W,  or  Vorarlberg  side.  Two  curious  results  of  this  want 
of  enterprise  may  be  noted.  On  the  one  hand,  the  rise  of  the 
flourishing  cotton-spinning  industry  in  the  Vorarlberg  (the 
raw  material  coming  from  Trieste)  dates  from  the  final  construc- 
tion (from  1785  onwards)  of  a  road  over  the  pass.  But  on  the 
other  hand,  the  bad  state  of  that  road  (especially  on  the  W. 
side)  is  credibly  believed  to  have  been  largely  responsible  for 
the  steady  refusal  (even  as  lately  as  1848  and  185 9- 1860)  of  the 
Vorarlbergers  to  consent  to  a  close  political  union  with  the 
Tyrol,  with  which  they  are  only  joined  by  a  slight  administrative 
tie,  though  reasons  of  practical  convenience  would  seem  to  make 
the  complete  incorporation  of  the  Vorarlberg  with  the  Tyrol  a 
very  desirable  object. 

The  Arlberg  Pass,  besides  directly  connecting  the  Inn  and  the 
Rhine  valleys,  and  so  the  routes  that  pass  by  Innsbruck  and 
Coire,  join  both  to  the  Bavarian  plains  and  Munich  by  means 
of  the  Fer7i  Pass  (3970  ft.)  and  of  Scharnitz  or  Seefeld  Pass 
(3874  ft.),  which  thus  act  as  'feeders.' 

{b)  To  the  E.  of  the  Brenner  there  is  another  pair  of  side 
passes,  of  which  we  must  now  speak.  Of  one  of  these,  the 
Ampezzo  Pass  (5066  ft.),  leading  from  Belluno  by  Cortina  to 
Toblach,  mention  has  been  made  above.  Its  importance  rose 
with  the  advance  of  Venetian  power  on  the  mainland  in  the 
early  fifteenth  century,  for  it  was  the  most  direct  route  from 
Venice  towards  the  N.W.,  and  Central  Germany.  As  it  was 
early  made  passable  for  light  carriages  and  carts,  it  was  a  formid- 
able rival  for  long  both  to  the  main  line  of  the  Brenner,  S.  of 
Brixen,  and  to  the  Pontebba  Pass  on  the  E.  However,  it  was  all 
but  exclusively  a  commercial  pass,  over  which  the  spoils  of  the 
East  went  from  Venice  to  Central  Germany,  and  never  seems  to 
have  possessed  any  great  military  or  political  importance.  After 
the  Ampezzo  valley  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Habsburgers  in  1 5 1 7 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       193 

the  whole  pass  became  more  and  more  Tyrolese,  as  both  slopes 
were  thenceforth  held  by  that  powerful  dynasty.  The  Ampezzo 
Pass  has  become  of  importance  to  pleasure  travellers  only  within 
the  last  thirty  or  forty  years,  the  fine  carriage  road  having  been 
constructed  in  1 829-1 830. 

Farther  to  the  E.  is  the  second  pass  which  must  be  considered 
under  this  head,  the  Plocken  Pass,  Kreuzberg,  or  Monte  Croce 
(4462  ft.),  leading  from  Lienz  on  the  upper  Drave  past  Mauthen 
and  Tolmezzo  to  Udine  (Friuli),  and  to  be  carefully  distinguished 
from  another  Monte  Croce  Pass  (5374  ft.)  a  little  to  its  W.,  and 
leading  from  Innichen  in  the  upper  Drave  valley  to  Cadore  and 
Belluno.  The  Plocken  Pass  is  an  odd  little  pass  that  never  seems 
to  have  met  with  due  recognition.  Possibly  this  was  because  the 
traveller  who  had  come  over  it  from  Udine  to  Mauthen  in  the 
Gail  valley  (Carinthia)  found  himself  obliged  to  cross  yet  another 
ridge  by  the  Gailberg  Pass  (3182  ft.)  in  order  to  gain  the  upper 
Drave  valley,  and  then  yet  a  third  ridge,  the  Toblach  Pass 
(3967  ft.)  to  Toblach,  if  he  was  bound  for  the  Pusterthal  and  the 
Brenner  route.  Another  reason  for  the  neglect  of  the  Plocken 
Pass  was  the  fact  that  its  neighbours,  the  Brenner,  the  Ampezzo, 
and  the  Pontebba,  were  too  strong  for  it.  Yet  our  pass  is 
described  in  the  Antonine  Itinerary,  while  to  this  day  on  or 
close  to  its  summit  there  are  still  to  be  seen  and  deciphered  no 
fewer  than  three  Roman  inscriptions,  dating  from  the  second  to 
the  fourth  century  of  the  Christian  era.  About  567  it  was  crossed 
by  the  Gaulish  poet,  Venantius  Fortunatus,  who  calls  the  second 
passage  (the  Gailberg)  from  the  Gail  valley  to  that  of  the  Drave 
by  the  name  of  the  '  Alpis  Julia,'  a  denomination  that  for  once 
can  be  satisfactorily  explained,  as  it  is  taken  from  the  Italian 
name  (Val  Zellia)  of  the  Gail  valley.  The  main  pass  is  named 
'mons  Crucis'  in  documents  of  1184,  1234,  and  1296,  which 
show  that  it  was  used  by  traders  who  desired  to  avoid  the  tolls 
levied  on  those  crossing  the  Pontebba  Pass.  It  played  a  small 
part  in  various  local  wars  in  the  fifteenth,  sixteenth,  and  seven- 
teenth centuries,  though  it  was  honoured  by  the  presence  of 
but  a  single  Emperor,  Rupert,  in  1401.  It  never  had  much 
commercial  importance,  save  when  the  neighbouring  passes 
N 


194     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

were  closed  for  one  reason  or  another,  but  such  as  it  had  was 
ruined  by  the  construction  first  of  the  carriage  road  (1836), 
and  next  of  the  railway  line  (1873-9)  over  the  Pontebba  Pass. 
Of  course,  in  1866,  the  S.  slope  of  the  pass  passed  with  the  rest 
of  Friuli  from  Austria  to  Italy. 

The  Plocken  Pass,  of  which  we  have  just  sketched  the  history, 
crosses  the  main  ridge  of  the  Carnic  Alps,  but  as  it  is  rather  a 
'  feeder '  of  the  Brenner  than  an  independent  pass,  we  have  con- 
sidered it  in  connection  with  the  Brenner.  Some  way  farther  to 
the  E.  lie  the  two  passes  which  properly  lead  over  the  same 
main  ridge  (the  watershed  of  the  Alps  and  the  most  southerly 
of  the  three  ridges  into  which  the  Eastern  Alps  here  split),  from 
the  S.  into  Carinthia — ihePofttebba,  Pontafel,  or  Saifnitz  Pass 
(2615  ft.),  and  (slightly  to  its  E.)  the  Fredil Pass  (3813  ft.).  The 
routes  over  the  two  passes  unite  on  the  N.  slope  at  Tarvis,  and 
continue  together  to  Villach  in  Carinthia.  But  on  the  S.  side  the 
Pontebba  Pass  is  reached  from  Udine,  through  territory  entirely 
Italian  since  FriuU  was  lost  in  1866  to  Austria,  by  way  of  the  Fella 
or  Ferro  valley,  commonly  called  the  Canale  valley,  whereas  the 
route  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Predil  Pass  lies  wholly  within  Austrian 
territory  (the  county  of  Gorz)  up  the  Isonzo  valley,  in  which  there 
is  a  village  named  Canale,  a  fact  that  often  leads  to  a  confusion 
between  the  two  passes.  Again,  the  Pontebba  Pass  is  just  within 
the  Carnic  Alps,  while  the  Predil  Pass  is  just  within  the  JuHc 
Alps,  the  former  rejoicing  in  a  splendidly  picturesque  railway  (con- 
structed between  1873  and  1879),  the  latter  having  a  carriage  road 
only.  These  and  various  other  factors  (such  as  the  greater  height 
of  the  Predil  and  its  more  exposed  situation)  have  brought  it 
about  that  the  Pontebba  Pass  has  always  been  more  important 
historically  than  the  Predil.  Indeed  the  Predil  comes  into  pro- 
minence only  between  1319,  when  the  citizens  of  Cividale  obtained 
leave  from  the  Bishop  of  Bamberg  (who  soon  after  the  erection 
of  the  see  in  1007  had  obtained  from  its  founder,  the  Emperor 
Henry  11.,  the  entire  Carinthian  slope  of  our  two  passes)  to  build 
a  road  (actually  constructed  1326-7)  over  the  'new  and  unusual 
route'  of  the  Predil,  and  1348,  when  a  great  landslip  blocked  for 
some  years  access  to  both  passes  on  the  N.  side.    When  the  eifects 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       195 

of  this  misfortune  were  remedied,  came  the  long  strife  between  the 
Habsburgers  (who  had  obtained  Carinthia  in  1335)  and  their 
vassal,  the  Bishop  of  Bamberg,  against  the  Patriarch  of  Aquileia, 
who  (till  he  lost  his  temporal  power  to  Venice  in  1418-1420)  natu- 
rally favoured  the  Predil  rather  than  the  Pontebba.  But  when  the 
county  of  Gorz  came  in  1500  to  the  Habsburgers,  the  fate  of  the 
Predil  was  sealed.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Pontebba  route  is 
described  in  the  Antonine  Itinerary  (it  is  possibly  even  dimly 
alluded  to  on  the  Peutinger  Table),  while  a  milestone  found  on 
the  summit,  and  inscriptions  elsewhere  on  the  route,  show  that 
it  was  a  frequented  route  in  Roman  days.  Possibly  crossed  in 
884  by  Charles  the  Fat,  it  was  later  used  by  the  few  Emperors 
who  came  into  these  regions — Henry  iv.  in  1077  and  1097, 
Conrad  iii.  in  1149,  Frederick  11.  in  1236,  and  Charles  iv.  in 
1354  (perhaps  in  1368  also),  as  well  as  by  a  portion  of  Frederick 
i.'s  army  in  1158,  while  in  1797  Napoleon  himself  went  over 
it  on  his  bold  campaign  in  Austria,  for  Massena  had  secured  the 
pass  by  force  of  arms. 

The  commercial  importance  of  the  Pontebba  Pass  was  also 
great  from  early  times,  for  in  1184  and  in  1234  the  Patriarchs  of 
Aquileia  made  treaties  with  (respectively)  Count  Henry  of  Tyrol 
and  Count  Meinhard  of  Tyrol  and  Gorz  with  regard  to  the  tolls 
levied  on  this  route,  while  numerous  other  documents  show  what 
a  considerable  amount  tolls  brought  in.  The  various  stations  on 
this  road  are  also  carefully  enumerated  in  the  itineraries  of  several 
Patriarchs  of  Aquileia  in  the  early  thirteenth  and  fourteenth 
centuries.  One  particularly  interesting  point  must  be  noted.  The 
Pontebba  was  the  chief  trade  route  from  Venice  towards  the  N.E., 
and  no  doubt  it  was  the  Venetian  trade  which  mainly  contributed 
to  the  commercial  importance  of  the  pass.  The  inhabitants  of 
the  smaller  towns  N,  of  Udine  very  naturally  compared  the  deep- 
cut  trench  of  the  Fella  leading  up  to  the  pass  with  one  of  the  canals 
of  Venice,  and  this  name  '  canale,'  half  understood  by  the  German 
traders,  was  turned  by  them  into  a  proper  name  '  Canal,'  and  the 
route  described  as  'via  per  Canales.'  This  name  first  occurs  in 
1 158  and  1234,  but  later  is  quite  the  usual  one  for  the  pass,  which 
was  also  described  as  '  per  clusam,'  i.e.  through  the  chise  or  narrow 


196     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

gorge,  which  gave  its  name  of  Chiusaforte  to  the  village  at  the 
S.  entrance  of  the  gorge  of  the  Fella,  where  was  the  principal  toll- 
house on  the  S.  side  of  the  pass. 

Coming  now  to  the  central  of  the  three  ranges  which  are 
formed  by  the  E.  spurs  of  the  Eastern  Alps — the  Tauern  range 
—we  find  that  though  several  of  the  passes  across  it,  now  dis- 
tinguished by  special  names  as  varieties  of  the  Tauern  passage 
{e.g.  Mallnitzer  Tauern,  Hohe  Tauern,  Velber  Tauern),  were 
probably  known  in  Roman  times,  yet  only  the  two  most  easterly 
passes,  which  are  also  far  lower  than  the  rest,  have  any  real 
general  historical  importance.  Of  these  this  pair,  the  Radstddter 
Tauern  (5702  ft.,  now  traversed  by  a  carriage  road),  forms  part  of 
the  main  route  from  Klagenfurt  to  Salzburg,  and  is  therefore 
indicated  on  the  Peutinger  Table,  while  Roman  milestones  have 
been  found  near  it ;  but  it  is  impossible  to  say  with  certainty  that 
this  way  was  ever  taken  by  any  of  the  Emperors.  The  Solkscharte 
(5873  ft.),  more  to  the  E.,  is  possibly  indicated  in  the  Antonine 
Itinerary,  but  has  always  been  overshadowed  by  the  Radstadter 
Tauern,  and  to  this  day  is  traversed  by  a  mule  path  only. 

In  the  most  northerly  of  the  three  ridges  which  in  the  E. 
portion  of  the  Eastern  Alps  separate  Italy  from  Austria,  the  Lueg 
Pass  (1700  ft.)  is  a  huge,  narrow  gorge  (carriage  road  through  it) 
which  forms  the  natural  continuation  of  the  way  over  the  Rad- 
stadter Tauern  to  Salzburg,  and  is  perhaps  alluded  to  on  the 
Peutinger  Table.  Similarly,  the  Pyhrn  Pass  (3100  ft.)  is  the 
natural  continuation  of  the  Solkscharte  route  to  Linz  :  on  its  N. 
slope  stood  formerly  a  Hospice,  which  was  founded  about  1190 
by  the  Archbishop  of  Salzburg  and  the  Bishop  of  Bamberg  jointly, 
and  gave  its  name  to  the  village  of  Spital — beneath  the  pass  a 
railway  line  was  opened  in  1906.  But  these  two  passes,  like  the 
Fern  Pass  (4026  ft.)  and  the  Scharnitz  or  See/eld  Pass  (3874  ft.) 
— both  leading  from  the  Bavarian  Highlands  to  the  Inn  valley, 
a  little  above  Innsbruck — are  simply  ways  across  (or  through, 
by  the  means  of  deep  gorges)  the  most  northerly  low  limestone 
ridge  of  the  Alps,  which  gives  access  to  the  real  Alps,  and 
properly  forms  merely  the  foot-hills  of  the  great  range. 

To  complete  our  view  of  the  Great  Historical  Passes  of  the 
Alps  we  have  now  only  to  glance  at  the  two  routes  which,  like 


THE  GREAT  HISTORICAL  PASSES       197 

that  by  Turbie  along  the  shore  of  the  Mediterranean  in  the 
Western  Alps,  skirt  rather  than  cross  the  most  easterly  spurs  of 
the  Alps — the  Birnbaumer  Wald  and  the  Semmering  Pass,  the 
two  routes  being  connected  by  the  Loibl  Pass  (4495  ft.)>  which 
leads  from  Klagenfurt,  situated  on  a  small  affluent  of  the  Drave, 
to  Krainburg  (E.  of  Laibach)  on  the  Save. 

The  Bir7ibaunier  Wald  is  not  properly  a  pass,  but  simply  a 
route  across  the  great  wooded  Carniolan  limestone  plateau,  which 
rises  to  a  height  of  2897  ft.,  and  by  which  a  traveller  can  go  from 
Laibach  in  Carniola  past  Wippach  to  Gorz  on  the  Isonzo,  N.W. 
of  Trieste  and  N.E.  of  Aquileia:  there  is  now  a  railway  from 
Laibach  past  Ober  Laibach  (the  Roman  Nauportus)  to  Loitsch, 
whence  a  carriage  road  is  carried  on  to  Gorz,  where  another 
railway  line  is  taken  to  Trieste.  This  route  is  described  or 
mentioned  in  the  Antonine  and  Jerusalem  Itineraries,  while  the 
Peutinger  Table  names  it  the  '  Alpis  Julia,'  and  Strabo  calls  it 
'mons  Ocra.'  Situated  at  the  S.E.  angle  of  the  Alpine  chain,  it 
offers  a  short  and  easy  way  into  Italy,  which  was  taken  by  several 
of  the  Barbarian  tribes  which  successively  invaded  that  fair  land, 
e.g.  the  Quadi,  the  Ostrogoths,  the  Lombards,  etc.  The  Birn- 
baumer Wald  is  the  true  '  Alpis  Julia,'  a  name  which  has  been 
also  applied  to  the  Mont  Genevre  (because  of  Julius  Casar),  to 
the  Julier  Pass  in  the  Upper  Engadine,  and  to  the  Gailberg,  N. 
of  the  Plocken  Pass.  But  it  is  perhaps  going  too  far  to  claim  (as 
does  a  recent  German  writer  on  the  Alpine  region)  that  for  the 
Romans  the  Mont  Genevre  and  the  Birnbaumer  Wald  were  by 
far  the  two  most  important  Alpine  passes  from  a  political  point  of 
view,  since  both  opened  up  to  them  a  great  field  for  colonisation 
and  for  conquest,  though  there  is  undoubtedly  a  considerable 
element  of  truth  in  the  statement. 

Last  of  all  on  our  hst  is  the  Semmering  Pass  (3215  ft.),  which 
forms  the  direct  route  from  Vienna  to  Graz,  the  capital  of 
Styria  (and  on  by  Marburg  and  Laibach  to  Trieste),  and,  in 
a  way,  balances  the  Birnbaumer  Wald,  for  it  is  at  the  N.E. 
angle  of  the  Alps  as  the  latter  is  at  their  S.E.  angle.  A  remark- 
able railway  (superseding  the  carriage  road,  ended  in  1728)  was 
constructed  over  the  Semmering  between  1S48  and  1854,  the 
first  line  over  the  Alps,  which  are  pierced  by  a  tunnel  282  ft. 


198     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

below  the  actual  summit  of  the  pass.  Some  600  ft.  below  the 
pass,  on  the  S.W.  or  Styrian  slope,  at  the  hamlet  now  called 
Spital,  Ottakar  v.,  Marquess  of  Styria,  founded,  about  11 60,  a 
Hospice  which  rendered  great  services  till  1331.  No  doubt 
this  easy  and  not  very  elevated  route  must  have  been  known  in 
earlier  days,  for  the  valleys,  first  of  the  Mur,  then  of  the  Miirz, 
lead  up  to  it  from  Styria,  and  make  it  the  natural  road  from  that 
province  to  Austria.  For  that  very  reason,  probably,  it  is  not  so 
often  mentioned  in  historical  documents  as  we  might  expect.  But 
it  seems  possible  that  in  1097  the  Emperor  Henry  iv.  crossed  the 
Semmering  on  his  return  by  the  Pontebba  Pass  to  Germany, 
and  pretty  certain  that  in  1368  Charles  iv.  took  this  route  on  his 
way  from  Vienna  to  Italy  also  by  the  Pontebba  Pass. 


The  above  sketch  of  the  fates  of  the  Great  Historical  Passes 
of  the  Alps  shows  that  the  celebrated  passes  of  antiquity  and 
of  the  Middle  Ages  are  by  no  means  always  those  which  are 
most  frequented  at  the  present  day.  In  the  Western  Alps  the 
Mont  Genevre  gave  way  in  the  early  Middle  Ages  to  the 
Mont  Cenis,  which  in  turn  has  been  entirely  superseded  by 
the  railway  called  after  it,  though  built  a  good  bit  to  its  W. 
The  Great  St.  Bernard,  however,  has  never  lost  its  supremacy, 
despite  the  fact  that  it  has  only  just  obtained  a  carriage  road 
over  it,  while  the  mediaeval  Simplon  will  gain  fresh  vigour  (having 
previously  put  the  Antrona  Pass  out  of  the  field)  by  reason  of  the 
new  railway  recently  pierced  beneath  it.  In  the  Central  Alps 
the  rise  of  the  St.  Gotthard,  though  it  began  late,  has  been 
steady  and  uninterrupted,  and  that  pass  has  now  quite  extin- 
guished those  in  Roetia  (the  Lukmanier,  the  Septimer,  the 
Umbrail,  etc.),  which  had  a  great  reputation  in  their  day.  In 
the  Eastern  Alps  the  Brenner  occupies,  in  this  respect,  a  position 
similar  to  that  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  its  natural  advantages 
being  even  greater.  But  most  of  its  'feeders'  have  now  but 
slight  local  importance,  while  the  railways  over  the  Semmering 
and  the  Pontebba  serve  only  the  outskirts  of  the  Alps,  and  so 
do  not  rival  or  compete  with  the  Brenner. 


CHAPTER  IX 

THE  EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS  UP  TO  THE 

END  OF  1865 

A  MOUNTAIN  Peak  is  made  by  Nature,  but  a  mountain 
Pass    has    been    created    by    Man.     In    other    words, 
Peaks  are  natural  phenomena,   while  passes  are  not  '  Passes ' 
till   crossed   by   man,    however    clearly    the   depressions    may 
have  been  indicated  by  Nature.     Now  men  do  not  ascend  high 
peaks  without  some  special  inducement,  though  they  do  cross 
glacier  passes  of  the  easier  kind  for  purely  practical  reasons  ; 
and  this  chapter  is  concerned  only  with  high  peaks  and  glacier 
passes.     But  the  history  of  the  exploration  of  the  lofty  peaks 
in  the  Alps  is  far  easier  to  write  than  that  of  the  glacier  passes 
in  the  main  chain.     Yet  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  Passes 
were  traversed  before  Peaks  were  cHmbed.     While  natives  went 
over   passes  for  practical  reasons,  it   happened  but   rarely  be- 
fore the  appearance  of  travellers  that  they  tried  to  ascend  the 
peaks  of  their  valley.     Hence,  while  in  order  of  time  we  must 
commence  any  history  of  the   exploration  of  the   High  Alps 
with  some  notice  of  the  glacier  passes  therein,  it  is  far  harder 
to  get  information  as  to  these  than  as  to  peaks.     The  mention 
of  a  glacier  pass  on  a  map,  or  the  indication  thereon  of  a  track 
across  over  it,  implies  that  some  one  has  really  gone  over  it. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  naming  of  a  peak  in  a  narrative  or  on 
a  map  does   not  in   any  way  signify  that   it    had   then   been 
climbed,  for  names  were  attributed  to  peaks  when  looked  at 
from  below,  though  passes  were  not  named  till  actually  traversed, 
and  even  then  not  at  once,  for  the  early  writers  simply  say  that 

199 


200     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

'the  mountains  can  be  overcome  between  such  and  such  places,' 
but  do  not,  till  quite  a  late  date,  give  to  the  passage  any 
special  name. 

Now  it  is  estimated  that  before  1600,  about  twenty  glacier 
passes  were  known  in  the  Alps,  that  about  twenty  more  were 
added  to  this  list  before  1 700,  and  about  twenty-five  more  before 
1800 — in  all  say  sixty-five,  and  this  number  reckons  as  glacier 
passes  such  cols  as  the  Monte  Moro,  the  Muretto,  and  the  Gries 
Pass.  We  must  patiently  gather  together  scattered  allusions  to 
passes,  for  the  maps,  even  up  to  1800,  name  but  a  small  number 
of  the  glacier  passes  that  had  certainly  been  crossed  before  that 
date — for  example,  Weiss'  Atlas  of  Switzerland  ( 1 786-1802)  names 
but  four  in  the  whole  of  Switzerland,  while  Peter  Anich's  Atlas  of 
the  Tyrol  (1774)  indicates  eight  within  the  limits  of  that  pro- 
vince only,  and  not  in  the  Eastern  Alps  as  a  whole.  Yet  in 
the  French  and  Italian  Alps  a  considerable  number  of  real 
glacier  passes  are  expressly  mentioned  before  1800.  Thus  in 
1673,  i"  ^  document  enumerating  the  limits  of  the  commune 
(the  most  extensive  in  France  next  after  that  of  Aries)  of 
St.  Christophe,  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  no  fewer  than  five 
glacier  passes  are  named:  Beaurain's  map  (1741)  of  the  diocese 
of  Grenoble  marks  four  of  these,  and  adds  three  new  ones,  while 
Bourcet's  map  (1749-54)  gives  five  glacier  passes,  one  of  which 
is  first  indicated  on  Paulmy's  map  of  1752.  Yet  even  to  this 
day  the  glacier  passes  of  this  region  are  but  little  frequented  by 
travellers,  and  none  are  known  to  have  actually  been  crossed 
by  any  traveller  before  1834.  Hence  it  is  a  mere  accident 
which  has  preserved  to  us  so  many  details  as  to  the  passes  of 
a  remote  district,  an  accident  which  shows  that  in  other  regions 
many  glacier  passes  may  well  have  been  known  to  the  natives, 
though  not  mentioned  in  any  documents  as  yet  unearthed. 
Thus  in  1206  the  Bishop  of  Aosta  (who  was  also  lord  of  Cogne) 
granted  to  certain  men  of  Cogne  some  pastures  on  the  further 
side  of  the  Col  de  Teleccio,  which  hence  must  have  been  crossed 
before  these  pastures  could  be  utilised.  About  1250  the  Count 
of  Biandrate,  holding  the  valleys  on  either  side  of  the  Monte 
Moro  Pass,  arranged  that  his  serfs  at  Macugnaga  should  (as 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      201 

they  actually  did)  colonise  the  valley  of  Saas,  but  the  pass 
itself  is  not  alluded  to.  Again,  in  1252,  the  Col  de  Fenetre 
de  Bagnes  (leading  from  Aosta  to  the  Val  de  Bagnes)  must 
have  been  in  use,  for  in  that  year  Amadeus  iv.,  Count  of  Savoy, 
granted  to  the  lord  of  Quart  in  the  Aosta  valley  the  pastures 
in  the  upper  portion  of  the  Val  de  Bagnes.  Once  more,  the 
Futschdl  Pass  (from  the  Lower  Engadine  to  the  Paznaun  valley 
— both  regions  then  Tyrolese,  as  the  latter  is  to  this  day)  was 
certainly  known  in  1383,  for  in  that  year  Galtiir,  in  the  Paznaun 
valley,  was  permitted,  owing  to  the  difficulty  of  communication 
in  winter,  to  have  a  priest  for  itself,  to  serve  the  church  built 
in  1359,  although  hitherto  it  had  been  included  in  the  parish  of 
Ardez,  in  the  Lower  Engadine.  On  the  other  hand,  some  glacier 
passes  are  very  clearly  indicated  by  a  name  of  some  sort,  even  at 
a  very  early  date.  Thus  in  1352  and  1380  we  hear  of  the  'cross 
on  the  snowy  mountains'  between  the  Lotschen  and  Gastern 
valleys ;  while  the  pass  (now  best  known  as  the  Lotschen  Pass) 
is  called  '  Gandegg '  in  1366,  as  in  1384  and  in  1419,  when  battles 
took  place  there  between  the  Vallaisans  and  the  Bernese. 

The  fact  that  for  centuries  Savoy  and  Piedmont  were  under 
the  same  rule  is  probably  the  reason  why,  in  the  last  sixty  years 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  no  fewer  than  six  glacier  passes 
are  mentioned,  on  maps  or  in  documents,  over  the  great  chain 
that  forms  the  watershed  between  the  Mont  Cenis  and  the 
Little  St.  Bernard.  Five  of  these  passes  are,  indeed,  included 
in  a  very  remarkable  report  (first  published  in  full  by  the 
present  writer  in  1904  in  his  work  Josias  Siniler  et  les  Origifies 
de  FAlpinisme  jusquen  1600,  pp.  269*-32  7*)  as  to  the  valley 
of  Aosta.  It  was  drawn  up  by  one  P.  A.  Arnod,  a  ducal  official, 
for  the  use  of  his  master,  the  Duke  of  Savoy,  with  special 
reference  to  the  necessity  of  erecting  fortifications  to  prevent 
the  exiled  Waldensians  from  quitting  Switzerland  in  order  to 
regain  their  native  valleys,  near  Pinerolo.  In  this  report,  dated 
1 69 1-4,  no  fewer  than  seventeen  glacier  passes  are  mentioned, 
or  described,  around  this  single  valley  of  Aosta.  Two  of  these 
deserve  special  notice.  One  is  the  Col  du  Geant,  leading  from 
Courmayeur  to  Chamonix.     This  pass  is  indicated,  under  the 


202     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

name  of  'Col  Major,'  on  several  maps,  from  1648  onwards,  and 
so  was  really  known  at  that  time.  Hence,  in  1689,  Arnod 
himself  tried  to  '  reopen  '  this  legendary  pass.  He  took  three 
bold  hunters  with  him,  providing  the  party  with  crampons  for 
the  feet,  and  iron  hooks  for  their  hands,  as  well  as  axes,  but 
finally  had  to  give  up  the  descent  towards  Chamonix,  owing  to 
the  huge  crevasses,  probably  after  having  reached  what  are  now 
known  as  'the  seracs  du  Geant.'  If  we  bear  in  mind  that  we 
do  not  hear  of  any  authentic  passage  of  this  col  till  1786,  when 
an  Englishman,  named  Hill,  achieved  the  feat,  we  shall  better 
realise  the  exceeding  boldness  of  Arnod's  attempt. 

Another   pass   which    he    describes    in    considerable   detail 

(without,  however,  distinctly  stating  that  he  had  himself  crossed 

it)  is  the  Sf.   Th'eodule.     He  speaks  of  an  ancient  and  roughly 

hewn  statue  (wooden)  of  St.  Theodule,  which  the  Vallaisans  had 

long  before  set  up  just  on  their  side  of  the  pass,  and — most 

curiously — attributes  to  the  pass  the  name  of  '  Monservin,'  an 

appellation    which  it   bears  to  this  day,    and  which  it  gave  to 

the  great  peak   of  the   Matterhorn   (called  thus  in  the   Aosta 

valley)  that   towers   over  it.     The    St.    Theodule   is,    in   truth 

(together  with  the  Hochjoch,   in  the  Oetzthal  division  of  the 

Tyrolese  Alps,  though  this  pass  is  first  distinctly  mentioned  in 

1 601),  the  typical  glacier  pass  of  the  Alps.     Putting  aside  some 

possible  earlier  allusions,  we  find  that  it  is  mentioned  by  the 

four  great  Swiss  topographers  of  the  sixteenth  century,  Aegidius 

Tschudi  (1538  and  1572),  Johannes  Stumpf  (1548),   Sebastian 

Miinster  (1550),   and   Josias    Simler   (1574);    the   last   named 

translating  the  name  'the  Glacier'  given  by  the  other  writers 

(who  also  call  it  '  Mons  Sylvius  ')  by  '  Rosa,'  an  adaptation  of  a 

word  ('roesa')  in  the  Aostan  patois,  signifying  'a  glacier,'  and 

now  confined  to   the  loftiest  point  of  that  great  Sea  of  Ice, 

namely  Monte  Rosa  itself.     Yet,  though  this  real  glacier  pass 

was  so  well  known  at  so  early  a  date,  we  know  for  certain  of 

two  parties  only  which  had  crossed  it  before  H.  B.  de  Saussure 

revealed  it  to  the  world  in   1789   and   in   1792.     About   1528 

Tschudi  himself  went  over  it,  as  did,  at  some  date  between 

1758  and  1767,  and  possibly  on  two  occasions,  one  or  both  the 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      203 

Thomases,   of  Bex,   who  collected   plants    for    the   celebrated 
botanist,  Albert  von  Haller. 

These  details  as  to  certain  glacier  passes  will  suffice  to  show 
that  in  all  probability  it  would  be  easy  to  increase  our  knowledge 
of  the  subject  by  further  researches  and  lucky  discoveries,  and 
that  a  far  greater  number  of  these  passes  (of  course  of  no  great 
difficulty,  according  to  modern  standards)  were  really  known 
to  the  natives  than  is  commonly  believed. 

Let  us  now  turn  our  attention  from  glacier  passes  to  high 
peaks.     Here,  too,  we  find  several   mentioned  by  name  at  a 
very  early  date,  though,  as  pointed  out  above,  a  mention  in 
the  case  of  a  peak  in  no  way  implies  that  it  was  climbed  at  or 
before  that  date.    Monte  Viso  is  the  first  mountain  that  attracted 
the  attention  of  dwellers  below,  for  it  is  very  conspicuous  from 
the  plain  of  Piedmont.     It  is  alluded  to,  under  the  name  of 
'Vesulus,'  by  Virgil,   Pomponius   Mela,  Pliny  the    Elder,  and 
Solinus,  among  the  writers  of  classical  antiquity,  as  well  as  by 
Martianus  Capella  in  the  fifth  century,  and  by  Chaucer  in  the 
fourteenth  century.     The  present  writer  is  of  opinion  that  the 
'  white  rock '  (rupes  alba)  spoken  of  in  the  charter  of  foundation, 
about  1 09 1,  of  the  Benedictine  priory  at  Chamonix  refers  to 
Mont  Blanc,   though   some  think  that  it  indicates   a   '  Roche 
Blanche,'  near  Servoz.     But   Mont    Blanc   is   certainly  meant 
on  maps  and  in  narratives  of  the  seventeenth  century  from  1606 
onwards  by  the  names  of  '  Montagne  Maudite '  (a  term  sometimes 
apparently  applied  to  the  Buet,  but  probably  intended  to  refer  to 
Mont  Blanc),  and  in  1581  as  from  1648  onwards  by  that  of  '  Les 
Glacieres.'     As  yet,  the  now  so  familiar  name  of  '  Mont  Blanc  ' 
(probably  the  local  term)  has  not  been  found  earlier  than  1742 
(text  of  Pierre  Martel's  Letter)  and  1744  (map  annexed  to  the 
English  translation  of  that  Letter).     The  name  *  Mont  Malay ' 
(another  form  of  '  Montagne  Maudite ')  occurs  first  on  Du  Val's 
map  of  1644,  this  appellation  giving  way,  from  1773-6  onwards, 
to   that   by   which   the   remarkable   needle   is   now   known   of 
'Aiguille  du  Geant.'     In  the   Bernese  Oberland  the   Eiger  is 
first  mentioned  in  a  document  of  1252  ;  the  Balmhorn  in  another, 


204     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

dated  1366";  and  the  Bietschhorn,  in  1548,  by  Stumpf.  In  1577-8 
Thomas  Schopf  in  his  text  and  on  his  map  adds  many  more 
peaks  to  the  Hst,  among  which  are  the  Finsteraarhorn  (named 
'  Schreckshorn '),  the  Schreckhorn  (dubbed  '  Mettelberg'),  the 
Jungfrau,  the  Wetterhorn,  the  Wildstrubel  (termed  '  Ratlisberg '), 
the  Wildhorn  ('  auf  der  Gelten  mons  '),  the  Oldenhorn,  the  Gross 
Lohner,  the  Dent  de  Jaman,  etc.,  all  these  now  making  their 
first  appearance  (so  far  as  is  known)  in  a  written  document 
or  on  a  map.  More  to  the  east  the  Piz  Linard^,  in  the  Lower 
Engadine,  is  mentioned  about  1573  by  the  local  historian  Ulrich 
Campell  under  the  name  of  '  Pitz  Chiinard,'  from  a  legend  that 
a  certain  hunter,  named  Conrad,  had  climbed  it  and  planted  a 
golden  cross  on  the  summit.  In  the  Eastern  Alps,  the  Gross 
Glockner  appears  in  1562,  in  1583,  and  in  1611,  under  dialectal 
forms,  but  the  Ortler  not,  apparently,  till  Anich's  Atlas  Tyrolensis 
of  1774,  which  names  also  the  Presanella  ('  Presserela  Mons '),  as 
well  as  most  of  the  great  Dolomite  peaks,  such  as  the  Marmolata, 
the  Cimone  della  Pala,  the  Cima  di  Vezzana,  the  Sass  Maor, 
the  Pelmo,  the  Monte  Cristallo,  the  Tofana,  the  Sorapiss,  the 
Piz  Popena,  and  the  Drei  Zinnen,  the  actual  names  being  given 
with,  in  a  few  cases,  only  slight  orthographical  variations.  But 
Anich,  though  mentioning  the  Wildspitze  in  the  Oetzthal  group 
and  the  Dreiherrenspitze  in  that  of  the  Gross  Venediger  district, 
never  speaks  of  the  latter  summit,  of  which,  like  the  Adamello, 
we  hear  for  the  first  time  in  1797.  If  we  turn  to  the  opposite 
extremity  of  the  Alps  we  find  that  the  term  '  Mont  Produissant ' 
(there  are  several  spellings)  was  applied  on  many  seventeenth 
and  eighteenth  century  maps  to  the  great  mountain  mass, 
which  includes  the  Ecrins,  the  Ailefroide,  and  the  Pelvoux, 
though  it  was  sometimes  Umited  to  the  Ecrins  alone.  Bourcet's 
map  (1749-1754)  calls  the  Ecrins  the  '  Montagne  d'Oursine,' 
and  gives  the  name  of  '  Grand  Pelvoux '  to  the  Ailefroide, 
leaving  the  real  Pelvoux  without  any  name  at  all.  On  the 
other  hand,  he  first  mentions  the  Meije,  but  under  the  name 
of  the  '  Aiguille  du  Midi,'  for  the  term  Meije  is  not  found  till 
1834,  and  then  as  a  nickname.  It  is  a  curious  fact  that  the 
Ecrins  was  not  clearly  distinguished  from  the  Pelvoux  till  1834, 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      205 

nor  the  latter  from  the  Ailefroide  till  1858.  Yet  it  is  in 
this  district  where  three  of  the  four  highest  peaks  are  so 
confounded  with  each  other,  that  we  find  (as  noted  above) 
express  mention  of  no  fewer  than  five  glacier  passes  as  early 
as  1673.  These  singular  variations  show  how  much  hangs  on 
accident,  for  the  natives  would  naturally  distinguish  the  three 
peaks  (if  they  paid  any  attention  to  them),  though  outsiders 
visiting  or  mapping  the  district  might  confound  them,  and  it  is 
from  the  evidence  supplied  by  outsiders  that  much  of  our 
knowledge  as  to  the  early  names  given  attributed  to  peaks  and 
passes  is  ultimately  derived. 

The  somewhat  lengthy  list  of  peaks  that  we  have  just 
given  may  suffice  to  show  that  from  the  sixteenth  century  on- 
wards a  certain  number  of  lofty  summits  were  becoming 
individualised,  and  picked  out,  by  means  of  special  names, 
from  their  neighbours,  though  after  a  somewhat  erratic  and 
inconsequent  fashion.  But  none  of  them,  save  the  Piz 
Linard  in  the  case  of  the  legendary  Conrad,  had  as  yet  found 
their  conqueror. 

L — Ascents  made  before  1760 

We  must  now  go  on  to  enumerate  a  few  high  peaks,  or 
snowy  peaks  (this  excludes  the  Mont  Ventoux,  the  Niesen, 
the  Stockhorn,  and  the  like),  which  were  scaled  in  early  days, 
though  our  list  up  to  1760  contains  only  about  half-a-dozen 
entries,  as  will  be  seen  on  consulting  the  Chronological  List 
printed  below  as  Appendix  11. 

In  the  cathedral  church  of  Susa  there  is  still  preserved  a 
remarkable  bronze  triptych,  which  depicts  the  Madonna  and 
Child,  between  St.  George,  mounted,  and  St.  James,  who  is 
presenting  a  kneeling  warrior.  This  knight  is  supposed  to 
be  one  Bonifacio  Rotario  (of  Asti),  as  to  whom  all  we  know 
certainly  is  comprised  in  the  inscription  engraved  at  the  foot 
of  the  triptych,  to  the  effect  that  a  man  of  that  name  '  brought 
me  hither  in  honour  of  our  Blessed  Lord  and  our  Lady  on 
September    i,    1358.'      The  word   'hither'  refers  to  the  peak 


206     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

of  the  Rochemelon  (11,605  ft.),  that  rises  in  the  Graian  Alps 
on  the  east  of  the  Mont  Cenis  Pass.  It  is  still  crowned  by 
a  chapel,  where  mass  is  said  annually  on  August  5  (the  festival 
of  Notre  Dame  des  Neiges),  on  which  occasion  the  triptych  is 
solemnly  carried  up  in  procession.  A  number  of  more  or  less 
fantastic  legends  are  told  as  to  the  reasons  which  induced 
Rotario  to  perform  this  strange  act.  But  we  read  that  in  the 
eleventh  century  already  the  monks  of  the  great  Benedictine 
monastery  of  Novalesa,  at  the  S.W.  foot  of  the  peak,  had  been 
beaten  back  on  an  attempt  to  scale  it  in  order  to  secure  the 
treasures  left  there  by  one  King  Romulus,  we  may  safely  con- 
clude that  Rotario's  act  was  due  to  a  vow  of  some  kind  that 
he  had  made.  In  the  eleventh  century  the  peak  is  called 
'mons  Romuleus,'  but  the  present  name  first  occurs  in  1494. 
As  the  mountain  is  snowless  on  the  Susa  side  it  is  remarkably 
accessible  for  its  height,  though  on  the  Savoyard  slope  its  flank 
is  covered  by  a  glacier  of  some  extent,  which,  however,  does  not 
deter  pilgrims  from  annually  mounting  to  the  chapel  from  that 
side  also.  Some  way  to  the  west  of  the  Rochemelon,  and  on 
the  other  side  of  the  so-called  Mont  Cenis  Railway  Tunnel, 
rises  another  peak,  the  Mont  Thabor  (10,440  ft.),  crowned  by  a 
chapel  in  which  mass  is  said  annually  towards  the  end  of  August. 
We  know  that  this  chapel  was  rebuilt  in  1694,  but  it  is  not  known 
at  what  date  this  pilgrimage,  a  rival  to  that  to  the  Rochemelon, 
took  its  origin.  The  access  to  this  peak  is  even  easier  than  that 
to  the  Rochemelon. 

If  the  Rochemelon  was  the  first  high  peak  in  the  Alps  to  be 
conquered,  its  Alpine  history  is  scarcely  as  interesting  as  that 
of  a  much  lower  summit,  the  Mont  Aiguille  (6880  ft.)  that 
rises  precipitously  some  thirty-six  miles  to  the  S.  of  Grenoble. 
It  resembles  Roraima,  in  British  Guiana,  in  that  it  consists  of 
a  nearly  level  grassy  plain,  supported  on  very  steep  rock 
bastions,  that  even  now  can  only  be  scaled  (without  ropes) 
by  a  good  cragsman.  It  was  locally  known  as  one  of  the 
'  Seven  Miracles  of  the  Dauphiny,'  and  is  first  mentioned  in 
121 1  by  the  English  chronicler,  Gervase  of  Tilbury.  It  was 
supposed  to  be  quite  impregnable,  and  indeed  bore  the  name 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      207 

of  the  *  Mons  Inascensibilis.'  Luckily  time  has  preserved  to 
us  the  extraordinary  letter,  written  on  June  28,  1492,  on  the 
summit,  by  the  first  conqueror  of  this  wonderful  freak  of 
nature,  Antoine  de  Ville,  lord  of  DomjuUen  and  of  Beaupre 
(both  places  are  in  Lorraine),  as  well  as  other  contemporary 
accounts  of  this  marvellous  feat  of  climbing.  He  tells  us  that 
his  master,  Charles  viii.,  king  of  France,  then  on  his  way  to 
Italy,  charged  him  to  make  an  attempt  to  scale  this  peak. 
This  attempt  succeeded,  though  the  party  (which  numbered 
eight  or  ten  men,  besides  the  writer)  had  to  use  ladders  and 
other  '  sobtilz  engins ' — it  would  be  interesting  to  know  what 
these  were.  He  spent  three  days  on  the  summit,  which  he 
caused  to  be  baptized  in  the  Threefold  Name,  and  had  mass 
said  in  the  hut  that  he  built  on  the  top.  The  summit  consists 
of  a  fine  grassy  meadow,  whereon  were  many  chamois,  old  and 
young,  another  account  adding  that  a  number  of  birds,  such  as 
crows  and  sparrows,  were  also  discovered  there.  Three  great 
crosses  were  set  up  on  the  edge  of  the  meadow,  to  prove  to  the 
spectators  below  that  the  summit  had  really  been  attained.  This 
expedition,  considering  its  date  (a  little  before  Columbus  dis- 
covered America — or,  strictly  speaking,  the  Bahama  Islands — on 
October  12,  1492),  is  one  of  the  most  extraordinary  incidents 
in  the  annals  of  mountaineering.  This  singularity  induced  the 
present  writer  to  have  all  the  five  original  documents  photo- 
graphed for  reproduction  (four  are  given  only  with  the  editiori 
de  luxe)  of  his  work  Josias  Simler  (Grenoble,  1904),  the  text 
being  also  transcribed  for  the  benefit  of  the  many  who  cannot 
easily  decipher  fifteenth-century  writing. 

After  this  amazing  expedition  of  1492,  which  has  a  distinct 
flavour  of  the  Middle  Ages,  we  must  wait  long  till  we  come  to 
any  authentic  account  of  the  conquest  of  another  peak,  and 
even  then  we  cannot  expect  to  meet  with  similar  sensations  and 
thrills.  The  Swiss  traveller,  J.  J.  Scheuchzer  (of  whom  more 
anon),  tells  us  that  in  1707  his  friend,  Rudolf  von  Rosenroll  (a 
member  of  an  ancient  Thusis  family),  made  the  ascent  of  the  Piz 
Beverin  (9843  ft.),  a  prominent  summit  in  the  range  W.  of  Thusis 
and  the  Via  Mala.     The  last  hour  of  the  ascent  alone  offered 


2o8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

any  serious  difficulties,  owing  to  the  strong  wind  that  blew,  the 
absence  of  bushes  wherewith  to  pull  oneself  up,  as  well  as  the 
soft  and  yielding  nature  of  the  soil  of  which  the  mountain  is 
composed.  The  climber,  who  appears  to  have  been  alone, 
carried  to  the  top  a  barometer,  with  which  he  made  observa- 
tions, and  had  the  good  fortune  to  enjoy  an  unclouded  and 
very  extensive  view.  There  is  nothing  to  show  that  it  was 
a  '  first  ascent,'  but  it  is  certainly  a  '  first  recorded  ascent.'  On 
the  other  hand,  the  ascent  at  some  uncertain  date  between  17 16 
and  1742  of  the  Scesaplana  (9741  ft.),  at  the  extreme  western 
extremity  of  the  Rhatikon  chain,  and  N.E.  of  Ragatz,  does  not 
pretend  to  any  originality.  But  the  narrative  is  the  earliest 
that  has  been  preserved  to  us  of  a  visit  to  this  glorious  view- 
point, which  rejoices  in  a  real,  though  harmless,  glacier.  The 
excursionist  was  Nicholas  Sererhard  (1689-1756),  who  in  1742 
wrote  his  '  Description  of  the  Grisons.'  He  was  a  native 
of  Kiiblis,  and  from  1716  to  1756  pastor  of  Seewis,  two 
villages  in  the  Prattigau  or  Landquart  valley,  that  extends  just 
to  the  south  of  the  peak,  and  was  accompanied  by  two  other 
men.  He  speaks  with  respect  of  the  '  horrible  great  glacier ' 
that  the  party  had  to  traverse,  and  marvelled  much  at  the 
nut-shells,  hairs  of  men  and  horses,  and  shavings  that  lay 
scattered  over  its  surface,  having  been  blown  up  by  the 
wind.  He  gives  a  very  detailed  description  of  the  panorama 
which  lay  unrolled  before  his  eyes,  the  Todi  attracting  his 
attention  particularly.  The  descent  was  affected  by  way  of 
the  Liinersee. 

Last  on  our  list  before  1760  comes  the  Titlis  (10,627  ft.), 
the  well-known  mountain  that  overhangs  the  Engelherg  valley. 
The  first  ascent  was  effected  in  July,  1 744,  by  four  peasants  of 
Engelberg.  Two  of  these  were  still  alive  in  1767,  when  the 
Subprior  obtained  from  them  exact  information  as  to  their 
climb  twenty-three  years  before.  They  seem  to  have  taken 
the  now  usual  route  by  way  of  the  Triibsee  and  the  glacier 
above  it.  They  employed  crampons  on  their  feet,  had  sticks 
wherewith  to  sound  for  concealed  crevasses,  and  were  all  four 
bound  together  by  a   rope.     They  planted    a  great  pole  in  a 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      209 

hole  they  dug  out  of  the  ice  on  the  summit,  and  tied  to  it 
two  large  bits  of  black  cloth,  which  were  well  seen  from  the 
village  and  monastery  for  a  long  time,  and  served  as  proofs 
of  the  success  of  their  adventurous  undertaking. 

It  does  not  enter  into  the  scope  of  this  chapter  to  trace  out 
the  gradual  growth  of  the  love  of  mountain  beauty.  We  limit 
ourselves  here  to  narrating  how,  for  whatever  reasons,  the 
high  peaks  and  glacier  passes  of  the  Alps  were  gradually 
overcome  in  the  course  of  long  years.  But  in  any  sketch 
of  this  subject  it  would  not  be  right  to  omit  the  name  of  J.  J. 
Scheuchzer  (1672-1733),  of  Ziirich,  a  learned  man  of  science, 
and  a  Fellow  of  the  Royal  Society.  He  was  the  official  town 
physician  at  Ziirich,  and  also  professor  at  the  Caroline  School 
in  that  town.  Between  1702  and  17 10  (except  in  the  year 
1708)  he  made  a  series  of  journeys  among  the  mountains  of 
his  native  land.  The  first  three  years  of  these  were  described 
in  a  volume  published  in  London  in  1708  with  the  'imprimatur' 
of  Sir  Isaac  Newton,  then  President  of  the  Royal  Society.  This 
narrative,  added  to  other  descriptions  of  his  later  journeys,  was 
issued  in  4  vols,  at  Leyden  in  1723.  In  17 16  Scheuchzer  had 
published  his  Helvetiae  Stoicheiographia,  Orographia,  et  Oreo- 
graphia,  in  which  he  sums  up  all  that  was  then  known  as  to 
the  peaks  and  passes  of  Switzerland,  thus  bringing  up  to  date 
Josias  Simler's  De  Alpibus  Commeniarius  (1574).  Now 
Scheuchzer  has  no  claim  to  be  a  mountain  climber.  His 
one  glacier  pass  is  the  Segnes  (a  very  mild  pass  of  that  kind), 
while  he  crossed  the  Gemmi  twice,  before  the  path  was  improved 
in  1 740-1,  and  also  the  Joch  Pass.  His  one  peak  was  an  out- 
lier of  the  Pilatus  range.  But  his  narratives  greatly  stimulated 
the  rising  taste  for  travelling  among  the  mountains,  and  in  this 
way  Scheuchzer  must  be  regarded  as  one  of  the  earliest  pioneers 
of  mountain  climbing.  He  noted  all  mountain  phenomena  that 
he  remarked  during  his  travels,  giving  a  summary  of  what  then 
was  known  about  glaciers  (which  he  terms  '  montes  glaciales ') 
when  describing  the  Rhone  glacier.  He  wrote  in  Latin,  in 
order  (like  Simler)  to  make  known  his  native  land  to  the  outer 
world,  especially  to  foreign  scientific  men,  for  even  at  that  date 
o 


2IO     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Latin  was  still  the  language  of  learned  men.  We  should  not 
forget,  too,  his  map  of  Switzerland  (four  sheets,  17 12),  which 
remained  the  best  till  the  publication  of  Weiss's  Atlas  (1786- 
1802). 

II. — Ascents  made  between  1760  and  c.  1800 

The  true  date  of  the  origin  of  serious  mountain  climbing  is 
1760,  just  about  one  hundred  years  before  the  foundation 
(winter  of  1857-8)  of  the  English  Alpine  Club,  the  first  institu- 
tion of  its  kind.  In  that  year  G.  S.  Gruner  published  his 
Die  Eisgebirge  des  Schweizerlandes  (3  vols.)  (a  detailed  descrip- 
tion of  Swiss  and  other  glaciers  as  far  as  they  were  then  known, 
and  so  a  completion  of  Scheuchzer's  17 16  book,  as  regards  this 
particular  point) ;  and  H.  B.  de  Saussure  (1740-1799) — a  wealthy 
scientific  man  of  Geneva  —  on  occasion  of  his  first  visit  to 
Chamonix,  offered  a  prize  to  the  man  who  should  first  succeed 
in  discovering  a  practicable  route  up  Mont  Blanc :  the  highest 
summit  of  the  Alps  was  at  once  selected  as  the  object  of 
attacks  by  the  infant  school  of  mountaineers.  This  offer  did 
not  meet  with  an  enthusiastic  reception,  for  the  first  serious 
effort  to  scale  Mont  Blanc  dates  only  from  1775,  and  the  next 
from  1783.  But  before  that  time  the  mere  idea  of  climbing 
mountains  had  stirred  up  several  men  to  try  other  peaks.  In 
the  Eastern  Alps  the  Ankogel  (10,673  '^'^•)^  one  of  the  most 
easterly  of  snowy  Alpine  peaks,  was  reached  about  1762,  and 
the  Terglou  (9400  ft.),  the  culminating  point  of  the  South- 
Eastern  Alps,  in  1778.  As  early  as  1770  the  brothers  Deluc, 
also  scientific  men  of  Geneva,  had  gained  the  summit  of  the 
Buet  (10,201  ft.),  in  order  to  make  scientific  observations.  In 
1775  Marc  Theodore  Bourrit  (1739-1819),  another  Genevese, 
discovered  a  '  new  route '  (the  first  on  record)  up  that  peak, 
which  Saussure  visited  in  1776,  while  in  1800  it  was  the  scene 
of  the  first  known  accident  to  a  traveller  on  a  glacier,  a  young 
Dane,  F.  A.  Eschen,  having  then  perished  in  a  crevasse.  In  1779 
L.  J.  Murith  (1742-1816),  one  of  the  canons  of  the  Great  St. 
Bernard,  succeeded  in  scaling  the  Mont  Vdlan  (12,353  ft.),  that 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      211 

rises  to  the  N.E.  of  the  convent.  In  1767  and  1778  he  guided 
his  friend,  Saussure,  to  the  Valsorey  glacier,  and  Bourrit  in  1778 
to  the  Otemma  glacier,  besides  exploring  in  1785  (apparently  not 
for  the  first  time)  the  granite  range  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Orny 
glacier  in  the  interests  of  Saussure.  In  1784  the  cure  of  Val  d' 
Illiez,  M.  J.  M.  Clement,  vanquished  the  highest  point  of  the  great 
local  peak,  the  Dent  du  Midi  (10,696  ft.). 

Matters  were  now  ready  for  the  final  assault  on  Mont  Blanc 
(15,782  ft.).  In  1784  two  of  Bourrit's  guides,  Francois  Cuidet 
and  J.  M.  Couttet,  starting  from  St.  Gervais,  succeeded  in  attain- 
ing the  Aiguille  (12,609  ft.)  and  the  Dome  du  Gouter  (14,118  ft.), 
and  even  a  point  near  the  first  of  the  Bosses  du  Dromadaire. 
On  July  I,  1786,  several  guides  reached  a  spot  just  below  the 
first  Bosse,  mounting  from  Chamonix.  Finally,  on  August  8, 
1786,  the  coveted  goal  was  attained  at  6.30  p.m.  by  a  bold  young 
Chamonix  guide,  Jacques  Balmat  (i 762-1834),  accompanied  by 
Michel  Paccard,  the  village  doctor.  Since  the  conquest  of  the 
Mont  Aiguille,  nearly  three  hundred  years  previously,  no  more 
plucky  feat  of  climbing  had  been  performed,  for  in  1786  the 
glaciers  were  still  regarded  with  awe,  and  it  required  enormous 
courage  to  venture  one's  life  in  these  trackless  deserts  of  ice, 
seamed  everywhere  with  yawning  chasms,  ready  to  engulf  the 
unwary  visitor.  In  1787  Saussure  in  his  turn  attained  the 
summit,  his  being  the  third  ascent,  while  six  days  later  Colonel 
Beaufoy,  an  Englishman,  repeated  the  feat.  On  the  other 
hand,  Bourrit  was  never  able  to  make  this  ascent,  but  in  1787 
he  followed  the  steps  of  Mr.  Hill  (1786)  over  the  Col  du  Geant, 
Saussure  crossing  this  pass  in  1788  only,  but  then  remaining 
on  its  crest  for  seventeen  days,  employed  in  making  scientific 
observations.  In  1822  it  was  traversed  by  Mrs.  and  Miss 
Campbell,  the  first  women  to  attain  these  snowy  heights, 
though  they  did  not  carry  out  their  intention  of  ascending 
Mont  Blanc  :  that  summit  had  been  gained  in  1808  by  a 
Chamonix  woman,  Marie  Paradis,  while  in  1838  Mile.  Henriette 
d'Angeville  repeated  the  exploit. 

Saussure's   activity   was    not    confined   to    the    Mont    Blanc 
region.     In   1789    he  ascended  the  Pizzo  Bianco,   near  Mac- 


212     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

ugnaga,  and  the  Rothhorn,  near  Gressoney,  and  crossed  the 
St.  Theodule  to  Zermatt,  which  he  was  the  first  genuine 
traveller  to  visit.  In  1792  he  mounted  from  the  Italian  side 
to  the  St.  Theodule,  where  he  remained  for  several  days, 
making  observations,  climbing  in  the  intervals  the  Little 
Matterhorn  and  the  Theodulhorn :  the  loftier  Breithorn  was 
not  ascended  till  Monsieur  H.  Maynard,  in  1813,  reached  its 
summit,  under  the  impression  that  he  had  conquered  Monte 
Rosa.  Saussure's  climbing  performances  thus  range  over  a  very 
few  years  (17 76-1 792),  but  they  caused  a  great  sensation,  for  he 
enjoyed  wide  scientific  fame,  and  as  far  back  as  17 68  had  been 
elected  a  Fellow  of  the  Royal  Society.  Between  1779  and  1796 
he  published  his  great  work,  the  Voyages  dans  les  Alpes,  in 
four  quarto  volumes,  illustrated  by  many  maps  (those  of  the 
Mont  Blanc  group  given  in  vols.  i.  and  ii.,  1779  and  1786,  are 
the  first  detailed  map  of  a  snowy  group).  This  work  may  still 
be  turned  over  with  profit  and  interest,  though,  of  course, 
its  natural  science  is  now  of  purely  historical  importance. 
Bourrit's  numerous  books,  on  the  other  hand,  though  filled 
.with  an  almost  boyish  and  infectious  enthusiasm,  are  less 
important  for  the  history  of  climbing,  though  still  worth 
consulting  by  any  one  desirous  of  studying  the  early  visits 
of  travellers  to  various  Alpine  haunts. 

The  scene  next  shifts  far  away  towards  the  east  to  the  upper 
valleys  of  the  Rhine  in  the  Grisons.  We  have  now  to 
study  the  doings  of  a  simple  Benedictine  monk.  Father 
Placidiis  a  Spescha  (1752-1833),  who  in  his  humble  way  tried 
to  follow  in  the  steps  of  his  master,  Saussure,  though  without 
either  his  master's  scientific  knowledge  or  his  material  resources. 
Born  at  Truns,  between  Ilanz  and  Disentis,  in  the  valley  of 
the  Vorder  Rhine,  he  became  in  1774  a  monk  at  Disentis, 
an  ancient  house  (said  to  have  been  founded  in  614  by  a 
disciple  of  St.  Columban).  After  completing  his  education  at 
Einsiedeln,  he  returned  in  1782  to  Disentis.  The  rest  of  his 
life  was  spent  in  serving  various  cures  in  his  native  valleys, 
though  he  suffered  much  at  the  hands  of  his  brother  monks, 
who   could  not  understand  his   scientific  tastes.     In    1799  he 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      213 

was  accused  of  being  a  spy  (his  climbs  and  maps  were  held 
suspicious)  in  favour  of  the  French,  and,  when  the  French 
did  come,  he  had  to  give  up  to  them  all  his  scientific  collections. 
In  addition  he  had  the  dreadful  experience  of  learning,  soon 
after  his  departure,  that  his  monastery,  with  all  its  most  precious 
archives,  including  his  own  original  MSS.,  had  been  burnt  by 
order  of  the  French  general  so  as  to  punish  the  peasants  who 
dared  to  resist  his  advance.  Despite  all  these  disadvantages, 
Spescha  achieved  an  extraordinary  amount  of  success  in  his 
mountain  explorations  around  his  native  valley :  a  fact  the  pre- 
sent writer,  who  has  written  special  Climbers'  Guides  to  the 
region,  realises  most  keenly.  It  is  true  that  Spescha  failed  to 
attain  the  very  highest  summit,  the  Todi,  although  in  1788  he 
ascended  the  Stockgron  (11,214  ft-))  close  to  it,  and  only  673  ft. 
lower,  while  in  1824,  sitting  on  the  depression  (close  to  the 
Stockgron  and  863  ft.  lower  than  the  Todi),  now  called  the  Porta 
da  Spescha,  he  had  the  melancholy  satisfaction  of  seeing  the 
two  local  chamois  hunters  that  he  had  sent  forward  actually 
attain  the  loftiest  point.  Perhaps  he  comforted  himself  with 
the  old  law  maxim,  qui  facit  per  alium  facit  per  se,  for  the 
hunters,  left  to  themselves,  would  scarcely  have  dreamt  of 
facing  the  terrible  glaciers,  that  most  probably  had  also  deterred 
Spescha  from  pushing  on  towards  the  goal.  Here  are  the 
names  of  some  of  his  principal  climbs — in  17  89,  the  Rheinwald- 
horn  (11,149  ft.),  the  highest  summit  around  the  sources  of 
the  Hinter  Rhine,  and,  in  1806,  the  Giiferhorn  (11,132  ft.),  the 
second  summit  of  that  region;  in  1792,  the  Oberalpstock 
(10,926  ft.),  the  highest  point  anywhere  near  Disentis  ;  in  1793, 
the  Piz  Urlaun  (11,060  ft.),  near  the  Todi;  in  1801,  Piz  Aul 
(10,250  ft.)  and  PizScharboden  (10,250ft.);  and  in  1802,  PizTerri 
(10,338  ft.),  these  three  mountains  being  the  culminating 
points  in  the  ranges  that  rise  to  the  north  of  the  Rheinwaldhorn 
group.  Oddly  enough,  he  does  not  seem  to  have  visited  any 
of  the  higher  peaks  of  the  Medel  group,  but  only  its  outliers, 
here  again  the  dread  of  glaciers  probably  holding  him  back. 
It  is  noteworthy  that  in  the  course  of  all  his  climbs  he  rarely 
set   foot    on   a  glacier,    though    in    181 2,   on   occasion    of   his 


214     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

second  ascent  of  the  Oberalpstock,  he  did  cross  the  easy 
glacier  Brunni  Pass  (8977  ft.).  In  early  Alpine  history  the 
name  of  Spescha  must  always  be  bracketed  with  that  of 
Saussure. 

The  scene  now  shifts  once  more  towards   the   east  to  the 
borders  of  the  Tyrol   and  Carinthia,  to   the  bell-like  peak  of 
the   Gross   Glockner  (12,461  ft.).      This   summit   rises   at  the 
head  of  the  Moll  valley  (Carinthia),  wherein  stand  Dollach,  and, 
higher  up,  the  Alpine  village   of  Heiligenblut.     Its  height  as 
compared   with    those    of  the    Ortler   (really    12,802    ft.)   and 
Gross    Wiesbachhorn    (really    11,713    ft.)    was    a   subject    of 
frequent   discussion,   as   also  its   exact   topographical  position. 
In   1779  already  the   question  of  the   possibility  of  reaching 
the  top  was  mooted  seriously.     But  it  was   not   till  later  that 
the  news  of  Saussure's  success  on  Mont  Blanc  brought  about 
the  first  attempt  to   vanquish   a   lofty    snowy   Austrian   peak. 
The  deciding  stimulus  came  from  Count  Franz  von  Salm  (1749- 
1822),   who   in    1783    became  Prince-bishop  of  Gurk  (he  was 
created  a  cardinal  in   181 7),  in  which  diocese  the  peak  rises, 
so  that  he   had  often  seen   it    in    the   course   of  his   pastoral 
visitations.     A  first  attempt  in  June,  1799,  by  two  peasants  of 
Heiligenblut  (the  brothers   Klotz),  showed  that  the  climb  was 
not    impossible,   as  they  reached  a  very  considerable  height, 
indeed  nearly  gaining  the  summit  of  the  Klein  Glockner.     The 
bishop  therefore  ordered  the  construction  of  a  wooden  shelter- 
hut  in  the  Leiter  glen,  on  the  S.E.  side  of  the  mountain,  and 
on  August  19,  1799,  a  number  of  peasants  (it  does  not   seem 
that  the  bishop  himself  was  of  the  party)  established  themselves 
in  it.     But  bad  weather  drove  the  party  back  to  Heiligenblut. 
It  cleared  on  the  24th,  so  that  a  small  party   started  for  the 
hut,  and  next  day,  in  the  finest  weather,  but  after  struggling 
with    much    fresh    snow,    reached    the    summit   of  the    Klein 
Glockner,  where  they  planted  a  cross.     Besides  the  brothers 
Klotz,    there   were   two  other    carpenters,   the  bishop's   Vicar- 
general  von  Hohenwarth,  and  a  sixth  man,  whose  anonymous 
diary  has  preserved  to  us  these  details.     This   success  excited 
immense  rejoicing,  and  the  bishop  caused  a  medal  to  be  struck 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      215 

to  commemorate  the  great  event.     Yet  he  does  not  seem  to 
have   been    completely    satisfied,   for    in     1800    he    organised 
another  expedition,  in  which   he  himself  took  part.     But  he 
did  not  get  very  high  up,  while  of  his  party  of  sixty-two  persons 
eight   attained   the    Klein    Glockner,    five  of   these   only  (the 
brothers  Klotz,  two  other  carpenters   and  Herr  Horasch,  the 
cure  of  Dollach)  venturing  to  cross  over  to  the  Gross  Glockner. 
some    112   ft.    higher.     Thus    the    loftiest    point  was   won  on 
July  28,  1800,  a  memorable  date  in  the  Alpine  history  of  the 
Eastern  Alps.     The  next  day  the  ascent  was  repeated  by  the 
four  peasants,   in  order   to   plant   a   huge   iron    cross    on    the 
culminating   point,    the    party   being    reinforced    by    Valentin 
Stanig  (1774-1847),  who  had  been  delayed  at  Heiligenblut  the 
day   before   through    making    scientific  observations.       In   his 
youthful  impetuosity  Stanig  clambered  up  the  tall  tree  which 
the   peasants  had    planted  next  to  the  cross,  in  order,  as  he 
himself  says,  to  '  be  higher  than  the  Glockner  or  any  one  else 
who  has  cUmbed  it.'     Stanig  became  later  an  ecclesiastic,  and 
made  a  number  of  climbs,  in  the  interests  of  botany,  such  as 
the   first  ascent  of  the  Watzmann  (in   1799  or  1801)  and  the 
ascent  of  the  Terglou  (1808).     His  notes  of  his  climbs  display 
the  greatest  enthusiasm,  and  Stanig  is  deservedly  reckoned  as 
the  earliest  amateur  mountaineer  in  the  Eastern  Alps. 

At  the  end  of  this  sketch  of  the  Alpine  history  of  the  period 
extending  from  1760  to  c.  1800  let  us  recall  the  publication 
of  several  maps  which  were  more  or  less  based  on  personal 
observations  among  the  mountains,  and  aided  the  succeeding 
generations  very  much.  For  the  Dauphine  Alps  we  have  that  of 
Bourcet  (1749- 17 54) ;  for  Savoy  and  Piedmont,  that  of  Borgonio- 
Stagnoni  (a  revision,  made  in  1772,  of  a  map  dating  from  1680); 
for  the  Tyrol,  Peter  Anich's  Atlas  Tyroloisis  (1774) ;  and  for  the 
Swiss  Alps,  Weiss's  Atlas  (i 786-1802) — the  dates  given  referring 
in  each  case  to  the  pubUcation  of  the  map  in  question. 


2i6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 


III. — Ascents  made  between  c.  1800  and  c  1840 

As  in  the  period  we  have  just  studied  so  in  this  we  have  to 
deal  with  three  sets  of  explorations  in  three  distinct  Alpine 
regions,  but,  while  the  Eastern  Alps  is  included  in  both,  the 
Mont  Blanc  chain  is  now  replaced  by  that  of  Monte  Rosa,  and 
the  Biindner  Oberland  (the  home  of  Spescha)  by  the  Bernese 
Oberland. 

Among  the  snows  of  the  Bernese  Oberland  not  much  had 
been  done  before  the  early  years  of  the  nineteenth  century. 
About  1780  the  Gamchiliicke,  in  1783  the  Petersgrat  (possibly 
crossed  in  1712  already),  and  in  1790  the  Tschingel  Pass — all 
close  to  each  other — had  been  crossed,  while  in  1795  the 
Gauli  Pass  and  in  1797  the  Oberaarjoch  were  traversed.  But 
the  only  peaks  ascended  for  certain  were  two  summits  that  rise 
above  the  Gauli  glacier — in  1788  the  Hangendgletscherhorn 
(10,808  ft.)  by  J.  E.  Miiller  (who  between  1792  and  1797  also 
visited  the  Uri  Rothstock,  9620  ft.),  one  of  Weiss's  surveyors, 
and  a  peak  more  to  the  east,  but  not  now  to  be  identified  with 
certainty,  the  '  Blaues  Gletscherhorn,'  which  about  1792  was 
visited  by  Weiss  when  making  his  survey.  Now  the  expenses 
of  this  survey,  and  of  the  publication  of  his  Atlas,  a  marvel  for 
its  date,  so  far  as  regards  the  High  Alps,  had  been  defrayed  by 
the  head  (J.  R.,  1 739-181 3)  of  the  rich  merchant  family  of 
Meyer,  of  Aarau,  who  himself  had,  in  1787,  climbed  the  Titlis, 
while  his  son  it  was  who  had  crossed  the  Tschingel  in  1790.  It 
was  therefore  most  fitting  that  various  members  of  this  family 
should  be  the  first  to  ascend  some  of  the  higher  peaks  of  the 
group.  We  know  nothing  of  the  previous  practical  knowledge 
possessed  by  any  of  the  Meyers  as  to  the  region  they  visited, 
but  the  results  attained  are  simply  marvellous.  In  181 1  the 
two  sons  of  the  head  of  the  family,  named  J.  R.  (1768-1825) 
and  Hieronymus,  with  several  servants  from  Aarau  and  a 
porter  picked  up  at  Guttannen,  having  reached  the  Vallais  by 
way  of  the  Grimsel,  crossed  the  Beich  Pass,  a  glacier  pass,  to 
the  head  of  the  Lotschen  valley.     Here  they  added  two  local 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      217 

chamois  hunters  to  their  party  and  traversed  the  Ldtschenliicke 
to  the  S.E.  foot  of  the  Jungfrau,  which  they  chmbed  on  August 
3,  181 1,  the  Guttannen  porter  having  been  sent  back  alone 
over  the  Lotschenliicke.  The  party  seems  to  have  attained 
the  Roththalsattel  by  a  route  not  now  adopted,  but  there  can 
be  no  reasonable  doubt  that  the  highest  summit  of  the  peak 
was  gained,  this  being  the  first  ascent.  They  then  recrossed 
the  two  passes  named  (both  new)  to  their  point  of  departure 
in  the  Vallais,  and  went  home  again  over  the  Grimsel.  The 
journey  was  a  most  extraordinary  one  for  the  time,  and  we 
cannot  be  surprised  that  some  envious  persons  threw  doubts 
on  its  complete  success.  To  settle  these  another  expedition 
was  undertaken  in  1812.  In  this  the  two  sons,  Rudolf  (1791- 
1833)  and  Gottlieb  (1793-1829),  of  J.  R.  Meyer,  jr.,  played 
the  chief  parts.  After  an  unsuccessful  attempt,  defeated  by 
bad  weather,  in  the  course  of  which  the  Oberaarjoch  was 
crossed  twice  (this  route  being  much  more  direct  than  the 
long  detour  through  the  Lotschenthal),  Rudolf,  with  the  two 
Vallais  hunters  (Alois  Volker  and  Joseph  Bortis),  the  Gut- 
tannen porter  (really  named  Arnold  Abbiihl),  and  a  Hasle 
man,  bivouacked  on  the  depression,  now  known  as  the 
Gemsliicke,  on  the  S.E.  ridge  of  the  Finsteraarhorn.  Next 
day  (August  16)  the  whole  party  attempted  the  ascent  from 
the  Studer  neve  on  the  E.  by  way  of  the  S.E.  arete,  but 
Meyer,  exhausted,  remained  behind  with  the  Hasle  man,  the 
three  other  guides  alone  having  the  honour  of  making  the 
first  ascent  of  the  Finsteraarhorn,  the  monarch  of  the  Bernese 
Oberland.  The  following  day  the  party  crossed  the  Grilnhorn- 
likke  (yet  another  new  pass)  to  the  Great  Aletsch  glacier,  but 
bad  weather  then  put  an  end  to  further  projects.  At  a  bivouac, 
probably  just  opposite  the  present  Concordia  Inn,  the  rest  of 
the  party,  having  come  over  the  Oberaarjoch  and  the  Griin- 
hornliicke,  joined  the  Finsteraarhorn  party.  Gottlieb,  Rudolfs 
younger  brother,  had  more  patience  than  the  rest  and  remained 
longer  at  the  huts  near  the  Marjelen  lake,  where  the  adventurers 
had  taken  refuge.  His  reward  was  the  honour  of  making  the 
second  ascent    (September   3)  of  the  Jungfrau,  the  Roththal- 


2i8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

sattel  being  reached  from  the  east  as  is  now  usual,  and  his 
companions  being  the  two  Vallais  hunters.  His  brother, 
Rudolf,  profiting  by  the  return  of  the  fine  weather,  succeeded 
on  the  same  day  in  making  the  first  authentic  and  certain 
passage  of  the  Strahlegg  Pass  from  the  Unteraar  glacier  (above 
the  Grimsel)  to  Grindelwald,  being  accompanied  by  Abbiihl 
and  the  Hasle  man  (Kaspar  Huber).  Meyer  tells  us  that 
the  shepherds  on  the  Zasenberg  pastures,  above  the  Lower 
Grindelwald  glacier,  were  extremely  surprised  at  the  arrival  of 
the  adventurers.  The  next  day  Rudolfs  uncle,  Hieronymus, 
and  his  party  followed  the  tracks  of  their  friends  to  the  summit 
of  the  pass,  but  did  not  venture  to  descend  towards  Grindel- 
wald owing  to  thick  mists. 

Such  is  the  barest  outline  of  two  most  astonishing  journeys 
amid  the  highest  snows  of  the  Bernese  Oberland.  The  present 
writer,  who  has  carefully  studied  the  original  narratives,  and  is 
well  acquainted  with  the  ground  covered,  has  no  doubts  what- 
ever as  to  the  complete  success  that  attended  these  two  journeys, 
on  which  certain  suspicions  have  been  cast.  The  Meyers  appear 
on  the  scene  no  more,  but  what  they  did  in  1811-12  is  amply 
sufficient  to  secure  them  a  front  rank  among  the  early  explorers 
of  the  Alps. 

The  same  two  peaks,  however,  attracted  other  ambitious  men. 
A  Soleure  geologist,  F.  J.  Hugi  (i 796-1855),  having  been  led  by 
his  scientific  wanderings  into  the  Roththal,  above  Lauterbrunnen, 
in  the  early  days  of  August,  1828,  conceived  the  idea  of  climbing 
the  Jungfrau  from  that  side,  and  actually  made  an  attempt.  A 
fortnight  later  this  route  was  again  tried  (August  21)  by  two 
Englishmen,  Mr.  Yeats  Brown  and  Mr.  Frederick  Slade,  with 
nine  local  guides.  Their  plucky  attack  failed  for  various  reasons, 
but  the  Englishmen  declare,  in  their  account,  that  they  consider 
the  ascent  to  be  feasible,  though  very  difficult.  Hugi  himself, 
on  August  19,  1828,  tried  the  Finsteraarhorn  from  the  W.  by 
the  route  now  generally  taken,  but  bad  weather  prevented  the 
party  from  pushing  beyond  the  Hugisattel,  on  the  N.W.  ridge, 
and  about  600  ft.  below  the  summit.  In  the  same  month  of 
August,  1828,  yet  a  third  party  endeavoured  to  explore  the  high 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      219 

snowy  regions  of  the  Bernese  Oberland.  Caspar  Rohrdorf, 
( 1 773-1843),  an  ofificial  at  Berne,  with  a  number  of  men  from 
Grindehvald,  really  did  cross  the  depressions  now  known  as  the 
Unter  and  the  Ober  Monchjock,  and  so  gained  the  E.  foot  of 
the  Jungfrau.  But  while  he  sent  most  of  his  men  forward  to 
explore  the  way,  he  contented  himself  with  excursionising  to  the 
Jungfraujoch  (not  visited  before)  and  climbing  the  great  snowy 
hump  on  it,  called  by  him  Sattelknopf  (T^Qxax^^X  of  a  saddle), 
that  is  so  conspicuous  from  the  Wengern  Alp.  A  few  days 
later,  a  fresh  attempt  (September  10)  by  some  of  his  Grindelwald 
men  was  completely  successful,  six  Grindelwald  peasants,  all 
bearing  well-known  local  names,  attaining  the  summit.  They 
later  received  a  double  ducat  apiece  from  the  Government  of 
Berne  in  recognition  of  their  exploit,  which  opened  yet  a  third 
route  to  the  eastern  foot  of  the  Jungfrau. 

In  1S29  Hugi  again  besieged  the  Finsteraarhorn.  After  one 
failure,  his  party  succeeded  (August  10)  in  once  more  reaching 
the  Hugisattel.  But  some  way  above  it,  Hugi  did  not  dare  to 
cross  a  steep  ice  slope,  so  that  two  of  his  guides,  Jakob  Leuthold 
and  Johannes  Wahren,  both  of  Hasle,  alone  attained  the  summit, 
where  they  built  a  cairn,  fixing  in  it  a  pole,  to  which  they  attached 
a  flag.  Let  us  add  that  it  was  not  till  1842  that  the  first  traveller, 
Herr  J.  Sulger,  of  Basel,  attained  the  top  of  the  Finsteraarhorn, 
where  he  found  some  iron  rods,  a  rusty  nail,  and  some  threads, 
all  signs  of  an  earlier  visit.  Both  of  the  previous  parties  had  left 
flags  on  top,  so  that  these  relics  might  have  belonged  to  one  or 
to  the  other. 

Let  us  now  turn  to  Monte  Rosa.  To  the  south  of  this  great 
mountain  mass  extend  the  twin  valleys  of  the  Lys  (Gressoney) 
and  of  the  Sesia  (Alagna),  the  head  of  each  being  inhabited 
by  a  German-speaking  colony,  that  has  come  hither  from  the 
Vallais  and  settled  down  centuries  ago.  From  the  head  of 
either  valley  it  is  comparatively  easy  to  reach  the  wide  opening 
of  the  Lysjoch  (14,033  ft.)  between  the  Lyskamm  and  the  main 
Monte  Rosa  mass.  Perhaps  it  was  a  faint,  dim  recollection  of 
their  descent,  perhaps  merely  a  laudable  curiosity  to  verify  an 
old  legend  as  to  what  lay  behind  this  mighty  wall  of  snow  and 


220     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

ice,  that  led  to  the  first  known  exploration  of  the  group.     There 
was  also  a  certain  rivalry  between  the  men  of  the  two  valleys. 
In    1778  the  Gressoney  men,    hearing   that   the   Alagna   men 
proposed  to  explore  these  regions,  determined  to  get  ahead  of 
them.     So  it  was  that  on  August   15,  1778,  seven  young  fellows 
from  the  German-speaking  colony  of  Gressoney  (among  them 
a  Vincent  and  a  Zumstein,  names  to  be  heard  of  again  later) 
made  a  valiant  attempt  to  solve  this  mystery.     They  succeeded 
in  gaining  a  rocky  tooth  {c.   14,325  ft.  in  height),  situated  just 
to  the  W.  of  the  great  opening  of  the  Lysjoch,  and  named  by 
them  the  '  Rock  of  Discovery.'     Hence  they  looked  down  into 
the  '  Lost  Valley,'  of  which  legends  told,  and  which  was  simply 
the  immense  hollow  of  ice  and  snow  enclosed  between  Monte 
Rosa  and  the  Lyskamm.     It  is  said  some  of  them  repeated  this 
expedition  in   1779  ^"d  in   1780,  finally  convincing  themselves 
that  beyond  the  snows  there  were  pastures,  occupied  by  cows 
and  men;    they  were    simply  the   'alps'  of  the    Riffel   above 
Zermatt.     Nothing  more  came  of  this  exploration  for  the  time. 
In   1 80 1  Dr.  Pietro  Giordani,  of  Alagna,  vindicated  the  honour 
of  his  valley  by  climbing  the  lofty  spur  (13,304  ft.)  of  Monte 
Rosa  that  now  bears  his  name.     After  a  fruitless  attack  in  18 16 
by  Dr.  F.  Parrot  with  Joseph  Zumstein,  J.  N.  Vincent,  1 785-1 865 
(son  of  one  of  the  heroes  of  1778),  attained  the  summit  called 
after  him  the  Vincent  Pyramide  (13,829  ft.),  being  followed  five 
days  later  by  Herr  Bernfaller,  canon  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
and  cure  of  Gressoney,  while  two  days  later  Vincent  himself  re- 
peated the  climb,  accompanied  by  a  compatriot,  Joseph  Zumstein 
(1783-1861).     The  way  was  now  open.     In  1820  a  large  party, 
including   J.    N.    Vincent,    his    younger   brother,    Joseph,    and 
Zumstein,    mounted    (July    31)   to    the   'Rock   of    Discovery,' 
descended  to    the   north,   bivouacked  in  a  tent  pitched  in   a 
crevasse  in  the  midst  of  the  great  snowy  hollow  already  spoken 
of,   and  next  morning  reached  the  peak  later  known   as   the 
Zumsteinspitze  (15,004  ft.),  but  200  ft.  odd  below  the  culminat- 
ing summit  of  Monte  Rosa.     Here  they  erected  an  iron  cross, 
which,  as  well  as  the  initials  of  Zumstein  and  the  two  Vincents, 
carved  in  the  highest  rock,  was  found  in  1886  by  the  present 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      221 

writer's  party.  This  was  the  loftiest  peak  of  Monte  Rosa 
attained  before  1848.  Zumstein  repeated  the  ascent  of  his 
peak  in  182 1  and  in  1822,  while  in  the  latter  year  an  Austrian, 
Ludwig,  Baron  von  Welden,  mounted  the  lower  summit,  named 
by  him  (like  the  other  peaks  mentioned  above)  and  known  as 
the  Ludwigshohe  (14,259  ft.).  These  successes  of  the  Gressoney 
men  naturally  caused  some  jealousy  in  the  Alagna  valley.  So 
a  young  Alagna  man,  Giovanni  Gnifetti  (1801-1867),  who  in 
1823  became  assistant  curate  at  Alagna,  of  which  he  was  the 
parish  priest  from  1834  to  his  death,  undertook  to  vindicate 
the  honour  of  his  native  valley.  After  unsuccessful  attempts 
in  1834,  1836,  and  1839,  his  perseverance  was  rewarded  on 
August  9,  1842,  when  he  gained  the  top  of  the  Signalkuppe 
(14,965  ft.),  a  peak  but  little  inferior  in  height  to  the  Zumstein- 
spitze,  and  now  also  known  by  the  name  Punta  Gnifetti.  The 
final  conquest  (1848-1855)  of  the  highest  points  of  Monte  Rosa 
is  most  conveniently  described  in  the  following  section. 

If,  however,  the  early  attempts  to  conquer  the  second  highest 
summit  in  the  Alps  were  not  crowned  with  success,  it  was  other- 
wise with  the  loftiest  peak  in  the  Eastern  Alps  and  in  the  Tyrol, 
the  Ortler  (12,802  ft.),  that  fell  at  almost  the  first  serious  attempt 
made  to  scale  it.  From  1800  onwards  the  Archduke  John  of 
Habsburg  (1782-1859 — son  of  the  Emperor  Leopold  11,,  and 
brother  of  Francis  11.,  the  last  of  the  Holy  Roman  Emperors — 
made  frequent  journeys  in  the  Eastern  Alps,  and  continued  his 
wanderings  till  the  year  before  his  death,  when  he  visited  the 
Rigi.  His  most  important  ascent  was  that  of  the  Ankogel 
(1826),  though  he  took  part  in  the  attempt  on  the  Gross 
Venediger  in  1828.  On  his  very  first  journey  (1800)  the 
archduke,  struck  by  the  glorious  view  of  the  Ortler  that 
is  gained  as  the  traveller  descends  from  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  to  the  head  of  the  Vintschgau  or  upper  Adige 
valley,  had  commissioned  a  member  of  his  suite  (this  command 
recalls  Charles  viii.  and  Antoine  de  Ville  in  1492),  named 
Gebhard,  to  explore,  and,  if  possible,  climb  this  splendid  peak, 
which  Anich's  Atlas  of  1774  had  declared  to  be  the  culminating 
point  of  the  Tyrol.     Gebhard  undertook  the  fulfilment  of  this 


222     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

order  in  the  summer  of  1804,  when  he  mounted  to  Sulden  and 
organised  several  attempts  from  that  side,  sending  out  his  own 
two  Zillerthal  guides  as  well  as  a  number  of  men.  But  six  or 
seven  attacks  all  ended  in  failure.  Gebhard  was  plunged  in 
black  despair,  and  sat  miserably  in  his  inn  at  Mais,  his  eyes 
ever  fixed  on  the  invincible  peak,  that  displayed  all  its  beauties 
to  him  in  a  more  attractive  form  than  ever.  The  landlord 
suddenly  announced  that  a  chamois  hunter  of  St.  Leonhard,  in 
the  Passeierthal,  desired  an  interview  with  him.  This  man, 
Joseph  Pichler  by  name  (commonly  known  as  Josele),  had  been 
previously  indicated  to  Gebhard  as  the  most  likely  person  to 
succeed  in  the  conquest  of  the  Ortler.  Josele  agreed  to  make 
an  attempt,  and  asked  for  a  reward  only  in  case  of  success. 
With  Gebhard's  two  Zillerthal  men  (Johann  Leitner  and  Johann 
Klausner)  he  left  Trafoi  at  1.30  a.m.  the  very  next  morning 
(September  27,  1804),  and  at  10  a.m.  Gebhard  himself  saw  the 
three  bold  mountaineers  attain  the  coveted  summit.  In  order 
to  avoid  the  glaciers  as  much  as  possible,  the  three  climbed  up 
the  rocks  of  the  Hintere  Wandln  to  the  S.W.  of  the  peak,  a 
route  that  even  now  is  reckoned  as  distinctly  difficult  and 
dangerous,  while  the  party  had  only  crampons  and  poles,  but 
neither  ice-axe  nor  rope.  They  carried  a  barometer  with  them, 
the  reading  of  which  showed  that  the  Ortler  was  really  higher 
than  its  rival,  the  Gross  Glockner.  Hence  the  immense  joy 
with  which  their  triumph  was  received  was  most  genuine  and 
unalloyed,  especially  as  they  regained  Trafoi  safe  and  sound  at 
8  P.M.  the  same  evening.  Next  year  (1805)  Josele  discovered 
a  better,  though  not  an  easy  route,  from  Sulden  by  the  Hinter 
Grat  or  S.E.  ridge  of  the  mountain.  On  August  30  (and  again 
on  September  16)  Gebhard  himself  achieved  the  ascent,  this 
being  the  sixth  in  all,  but  the  first  made  by  a  traveller.  It 
shows  what  almost  incredible  pluck  and  courage  the  early 
explorers  had  that  on  the  night  of  September  13,  thanks  to 
Josele  and  his  men,  a  great  bonfire  was  kindled  on  the  summit 
and  blazed  there  for  two  hours,  to  the  huge  amazement  of  half 
Tyrol — further,  the  brave  men  descended  from  the  peak  that 
night  by  the  light  of  torches.      The  giant  was  overcome,  that 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      223 

was  enough.  Doubtless  this  accounts  for  the  fact  that  during 
the  next  half-century  but  two  ascents  were  made  (in  1826  and 
in  1834),  Josele  being  the  guide  in  either  case,  and  selecting 
on  both  occasions  his  original  route  of  1804.  It  was  not 
attained  (despite  several  attempts)  again  till  1864,  when  it  was 
climbed  by  three  Englishmen  (Messrs.  E.  N.  and  H.  E.  Buxton, 
and  Mr.  F.  F.  Tuckett),  with  Christian  Michel,  of  Grindelwald, 
and  Fr.  Biner,  of  Zermatt.  Though  the  1864  route  has  been 
superseded  by  easier  lines  of  ascent,  it  was  that  ascent  which 
revealed  the  Ortler  to  mountaineers  in  general,  so  that  the  1864 
party,  all  strangers  to  the  region,  deserve  almost  as  much  credit 
as  Josele  and  his  two  companions  sixty  years  earlier. 

The  ascent  of  1834  had  been  made  by  one  Peter  Carl 
Thurwieser  (i  789-1865),  a  Tyrolese  ecclesiastic,  who  from  1820 
onwards  held  the  post  of  Professor  of  Oriental  Languages  at  the 
Lyceum  at  Salzburg.  Blessed  with  small  means,  he  had  the  true 
spirit  of  a  mountain  wanderer,  and  is  credited  with  having  been 
(despite  his  barometer  and  his  botanical  box)  the  first  man  in 
the  Eastern  Alps  who  climbed  peaks  for  the  sake  of  climbing, 
without  any  ulterior  object — in  short,  the  first  real  '  mountaineer  ' 
(using  that  term  in  its  restricted  sense)  in  the  Tyrol.  He  is  said 
to  have  climbed  over  seventy  peaks,  great  and  small,  in  his  day,  his 
active  career  extending  from  1820  to  1847.  Of  these  the  more 
important  (besides  the  Watzmann  in  1820,  the  Ankogel  in  1822, 
the  Gross  Glockner  in  1824,  and  the  Ortler  in  1834)  were  the  first 
ascents  in  1833  of  the  Strahlkogel  (in  the  Stubai  region),  in 
1836  of  the  Fernerkogel  (in  the  Stubai  region),  in  1846  of  the 
Gross  Morchner,  and  in  1847  of  the  Schrammacher  (both  these 
peaks  belonging  to  the  Zillerthal  group).  He  also  made  the 
first  ascents  by  a  traveller  in  1825  of  the  Gross  Wiesbachhorn 
(Glockner  group),  in  1834  of  the  Dachstein,  and  in  1836 
of  the  Habicht  (Stubai  Alps).  He  accompanied  on  several 
climbs  Prince  Frederick  von  Schwarzenberg  (1809-1885),  who 
was  from  1835  to  1850  Prince-archbishop  of  Salzburg  (later 
of  Prague,  and  cardinal  in  1842).  Among  the  chief  ascents 
made  by  the  archbishop  (without  Thurwieser)  were  the  Gross 
Wiesbachhorn  (1841)  and  at  uncertain  dates  the  Kitzteinhorn 


224     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

and  the  Hochtenn,  all  three  in  the  Glockner  group.  It  is  said 
that  once  when  the  archbishop  was  on  a  confirmation  round  in 
the  Pinzgau  he  recognised  among  the  crowd  awaiting  his  arrival 
a  chamois  hunter  who  had  formerly  served  him  as  guide,  and 
whose  hand  he  shook  heartily,  before  attending  to  all  the  more 
important  ecclesiastics  and  laymen  who  stood  around. 

We  come  back  to  the  Archduke  John  (with  whom  also 
Thurwieser  was  acquainted)  and  his  attempt  on  the  Gross 
Venediger  (12,008  ft.)  in  1828.  An  imperial  forester,  Paul 
Rohregger,  had  conceived  the  idea  of  climbing  this  virgin 
peak  by  the  steep  snow  slopes  on  its  N.W.  slope,  and  had 
convinced  himself  of  the  practicability  of  this  route.  Hence  on 
August  9,  1828,  a  party  of  17  (including  the  archduke,  and  A. 
von  Ruthner),  led  by  Rohregger,  set  out  for  the  ascent.  The 
weather  was  superb,  but  the  sun  very  hot,  while  fresh  snow 
delayed  the  advance  of  such  a  large  party.  Rohregger  led  the 
way  over  the  bergschrund,  and  was  followed  by  three  other 
guides,  who  improved  the  steps  he  cut  in  the  ice,  while  the 
remainder  were  roped  together  and  followed  more  slowly.  At 
a  certain  point,  the  state  of  the  snow  seemed  so  dangerous  at 
the  late  hour  of  the  day  (2  p.m.)  that  Rohregger  advised  retreat. 
While  this  proposal  was  being  debated  an  avalanche  broke  loose 
above  and  swept  away  Rohregger  into  the  yawning  bergschrund 
at  the  foot  of  the  slope.  This  incident  put  an  end  at  once  to  all 
idea  of  further  advance,  though  luckily  Rohregger  was  rescued 
without  having  suffered  much  damage.  Such  an  experience 
gave  an  evil  reputation  to  the  peak.  But  finally  on  September 
3,  1 84 1,  it  was  conquered  (this  time  by  its  S.E.  slope)  by  a  large 
party.  No  fewer  than  twenty-six  persons  attained  the  summit, 
among  them  being  old  Rohregger  and  A.  von  Ruthner,  who  was 
destined  to  play  such  a  prominent  part  in  the  further  exploration 
of  the  Eastern  Alps,  and  who  survived  long  enough  to  celebrate 
the  jubilee  of  his  exploit.  Thus  by  1841  three  of  the  best 
known  Tyrolese  peaks  (the  Ortler,  the  Gross  Glockner,  and  the 
Gross  Venediger)  had  been  subdued,  but  it  was  not  till  the 
'  sixties '  that  the  Eastern  Alps  finally  yielded  up  most  of  their 
secrets  to  the  indefatigable  curiosity  of  a  few  bold  explorers. 


.'•I 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      225 

IV.— Ascents  made  between  c.  1840  and  1865 

This  period  may  be  described  as  that  of  the  almost  complete 
conquest  of  the  High  Alps,  though  certain  remoter  districts  did 
not  attract  much  attention  till  later.  An  examination  of  the 
Chronological  List  printed  below  as  Appendix  11.  amply  proves 
this  general  statement,  and  gives  the  reader  a  bird's-eye  view 
of  the  gradual  spread  and  increase  of  climbs  among  the  High 
Alps.  There  is  thus  a  superabundance  of  matter  to  consider, 
but  our  limits  do  not  allow  us  to  do  more  than  indicate  a  few 
of  the  main  features  of  this  great  extension  of  mountaineering 
zeal.  It  seems  best,  therefore,  to  give  first  a  short  account  of 
the  principal  continental  climbers  during  this  period,  and  then 
to  dwell  more  in  detail  on  the  exploits  of  English  mountaineers, 
who  appeared  later  on  the  scene  than  their  foreign  rivals,  but 
completed  their  work. 

The  most  prominent  figure  in  the  Alpine  history  of  our  period 
is,  of  course,  Gottlieb  Studer  (1804-1890),  of  Berne.  Born 
only  five  years  after  the  death  of  Saussure,  he  made  his  first 
ascent  at  the  early  age  of  four  years  in  1808  (before  the  Jungfrau 
had  been  vanquished),  that  of  a  hill  named  Rafriiti  (3950  ft.), 
near  Langnau  in  the  Emmenthal,  and  repeated  this  expedition 
in  1883,  seventy-five  years  later.  His  own  list  of  mountain 
climbs  extends  from  1823  to  1883,  and  includes  six  hundred 
and  forty-three  distinct  entries,  while  between  1823  and  1881  he 
drew  no  fewer  than  seven  hundred  and  ten  mountain  panoramas 
and  views.  His  first  high  expedition  seems  to  have  been  an 
attack  on  the  Diablerets  in  1825  (he  made  the  first  ascent  of 
this  peak  in  1850),  and  his  last  the  Pic  d'Arzinol  in  1883.  His 
best  work  was  done  between  1839  and  1876,  and  lay  mainly 
in  the  Bernese  Oberland  and  the  Pennines,  though  he  visited  all 
other  parts  of  the  Swiss  Alps,  not  to  speak  of  the  Dauphine 
(185 1  and  1873),  ^^  Graians  (1855,  1856,  and  1858),  and  the 
Tyrol  (1846  and  1880).  Everywhere  he  went  he  made  new 
ascents  or  passes,  or  opened  routes  known  previously  only  to 
the  natives.  He  published  comparatively  little,  though  his 
p 


226     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

detailed  MS,  accounts  are  still  carefully  preserved.  But  his 
two  maps  of  the  Southern  Valleys  of  the  Vallais  (1849  ^^^ 
1853),  and  his  elaborate  history  of  climbing  in  the  Swiss  Alps, 
issued  in  4  vols.,  1869-1883  (new  edition  in  3  vols.,  1896-9), 
under  the  title  of  Ueber  Eis  und  Schnee,  have  proved  of  the 
highest  value  to  his  successors.  He  must  be  distinguished 
from  his  cousin  Bernard  (1794-1887),  also  of  Berne,  who  also 
travelled  much  in  the  Alps  for  the  sake  of  his  geological  studies, 
whereas  Gottlieb  devoted  his  attention  rather  to  topography 
and  actual  climbing.  Of  the  early  Ziirich  school  of  climbers, 
Melchior  Ulrich  (1802-1893)  is  the  principal.  His  first  Alpine 
journey  dates  from  1814,  and  he  ascended  the  Titlis  as  early 
as  1833,  while  his  last  high  climb  was  made  in  187 1.  He 
travelled  a  good  deal  with  Gottlieb  Studer.  Historically  his 
great  achievement  was  the  exploration,  from  1847  to  1852,  of 
the  glacier  passes  around  Zermatt,  at  that  time  barely  known 
by  name.  Later  he  devoted  himself  mainly  to  Eastern  Switzer- 
land. Another  Ziirich  climber  of  those  days  was  Heinrich 
Zeller-Hor7ier  (1810-1897),  whose  activity  was  mainly  confined 
to  Central  and  Eastern  Switzerland.  Georg  Hoffmanfi  (1808- 
1858),  of  Basel,  specialised  on  the  peaks  around  the  Maderaner- 
thal,  publishing  thereon  an  interesting  work  in  1843,  though  his 
great  Panorama  of  that  range,  drawn  in  1852,  was  not  published 
till  1865.  Adouard  Desor  (1811-1882),  of  Neuchatel,  is  best 
known  as  one  of  the  early  scientific  men  who  studied  on  the 
spot  glacial  phenomena  and  especially  the  vexed  question  of 
the  motion  of  glaciers.  It  was  probably  because  he  chose 
as  the  scene  of  his  labours,  from  1840  to  1845,  the  Unteraar 
glacier,  above  the  Grimsel,  that  as  a  mountaineer  his  name 
is  associated  almost  exclusively  with  the  high  peaks  of  the 
Bernese  Oberland.  So  in  1841  he  made  the  first  ascent  of 
the  Ewigschneehorn  and  the  fourth  of  the  Jungfrau  (not  visited 
since  1828),  in  1842  the  first  ascent  of  the  Gross  Lauteraarhorn, 
in  1844  the  first  ascent  of  the  Rosenhorn  peak  of  the  Wetter- 
horner  (his  two  Meiringen  guides  being  sent  a  few  days  later 
to  conquer  the  Hasle  Jungfrau  summit  of  that  group),  finally 
in  1845  the  second  ascent  (the  first  by  a  traveller)  of  the  Hasle 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      227 

Jungfrau,  and  the  second  ascent  of  the  Galenstock.  His  two  works 
(1844-5),  together  with  those  of  Gottlieb  Studer,  G.  Hofitmann, 
and  J.  D.  Forbes  (all  issued  in  1843),  formed,  till  1856-7,  the 
principal  books  devoted  for  the  most  part  to  descriptions  of 
climbs  among  the  High  Alps.  A  line  of  mention  must  also 
be  accorded  to  J.  Coaz  (still  living),  who,  from  1846  to  1850, 
climbed  many  peaks  in  the  Engadine,  including  its  highest 
summit,  the  Piz  Bernina  (1850). 

Of  a  younger  generation  are  the  three  following  mountaineers. 
J.  J.  Weilenmann  (1819-1896),  of  St.  Gall,  did  not  begin  his 
Alpine  career  proper  till  the  early  'fifties':  in  1855  ^^  made 
the  second  ascent  of  Monte  Rosa,  while  his  total  list  is  stated 
to  exceed  three  hundred  and  fifty  peaks  and  passes,  all  in 
Switzerland  or  the  western  portion  of  the  Tyrol.  He  is  probably 
the  first  amateur  who  made  high  ascents  without  any  companion 
whatsoever.  The  Austrians,  Karl  von  Sonklar  (181 6-1 885), 
Anton  von  Ruthner  (1817-1897),  J.  A.  Specht  (1828-1894),  and 
E.  von  Mojsisovics  (1839-1907),  all  explored  different  regions 
of  the  Eastern  Alps,  and  wrote  (this  does  not,  however,  apply  to 
the  second  couple)  elaborate  w^orks  relating  to  their  wanderings. 

This  list  of  pre-1865  Continental  climbers  may  suffice,  as  it 
includes  the  chief  names  of  those  who  have  died,  though  it 
might  easily  be  made  much  longer. 


The  attentive  reader  may  have  noticed,  perhaps  with  some 
astonishment,  that  hitherto  the  names  of  English  climbers 
mentioned  in  this  chapter  have  been  few  and  far  between. 
The  simple  reason  for  this  apparent  neglect  is  that  before  about 
1840  very  few  Englishmen  made  any  high  ascents,  a  fact  which 
is  certainly  curious.  From  1840  to  1855  the  number  grows, 
while  from  1855  onwards  the  English  explorers  of  the  High 
Alps  carry  all  before  them,  even  though  their  number  does  not 
come  up  to  that  of  their  foreign  rivals. 

Up  to  about  1840  the  present  writer,  who  has  taken  some 
pains  to  look  into  the  matter,  has  only  discovered  the  following 
high    climbs    made    by   Englishmen,    including   in    that   term 


228     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Scotchmen  and  Americans.  Mr,  Hill  in  1786  reopened  the  Col 
du  Geant,  and  was  followed  by  one  or  two  parties,  among  which 
were  Mrs.  and  Miss  Campbell  (1822),  the  earliest  English  lady 
climbers  of  whom  the  names  have  come  down  to  us.  Colonel 
Beaufoy  went  up  Mont  Blanc  in  1787,  but  up  to  1840  we  cannot 
reckon  more  than  a  dozen  English  parties  which  had  followed 
in  his  steps.  Mr.  Cade's  party  crossed  the  St.  Theodule  in  1800, 
and  he  too  had  a  few  successors  among  his  compatriots,  such  as 
Mr.  William  Brockedon  (1825),  and  Mr.  Frank  Walker  (1826). 
The  Zermatt  Breithorn  was  visited  in  1822  by  Sir  John  Herschel, 
and  again  in  1830  by  Lord  ]\Iinto.  In  1828  Mr.  Frederick  Slade 
and  Mr.  Yeats  Brown  made  a  valiant,  though  unsuccessful, 
attempt  to  climb  the  Jungfrau  from  the  Roththal,  while  in  1826 
Mr.  Frank  Walker  crossed  the  Oberaarjoch  and  in  1835  Mr. 
Callander  what  seems  to  be  the  Old  Strahlegg  Pass.  In  1828-9 
Mr.  William  Brockedon  visited  one  glacier  pass  in  the  Graians, 
and  went  over  a  number  of  lower  passes,  his  descriptions  form- 
ing the  basis  of  Part  11.  of  Murray's  Handbook  for  Switzerland, 
Savoy,  and  Piedmont,  which  first  appeared  in  1838.  The  list  is 
not  long.  Yet  in  it  there  are  no  climbs  that  were  made  for  the 
first  time,  save  two  doubtful  exceptions — Mr.  Hill  only  're- 
opened '  the  Col  du  Geant,  known  over  a  century  before,  while 
Mr.  Callander's  guides  probably  took  him  over  the  Old  Strahlegg 
by  mistake,  without  in  the  least  intending  to  make  a  '  new 
expedition.'  In  short,  up  to  about  1840,  English  travellers,  who 
were  many,  showed  a  deplorable  lack  of  Alpine  ambition. 

But  matters  take  a  different  aspect  from  about  1840  to  1850. 
True,  only  four  English  ascents  of  Mont  Blanc  are  recorded  in 
that  period,  though  in  1841  a  plucky  Scotchwoman,  Mrs.  Cowan, 
crossed  the  Strahlegg.  But  in  1839  we  find  the  names  of  two 
Englishmen  mentioned  as  having  made  some  sort  of  mild  high 
expedition.  In  that  year  A.  T.  Malkin  (1803-1888)  went  up  the 
Buet  and  over  the  Tschingel  Pass,  while  in  1840  he  crossed  the 
St.  Theodule  twice,  and  also  traversed  the  Lotschen  Pass,  climbing 
the  Hockenhorn  on  the  way — in  1843  he  went  over  the  Strahlegg, 
then,  beating  Brockedon,  crossed  the  Col  de  la  Galise,  and 
followed  the  steps  of  Forbes  over  the  Col  de  Collon  and  the  Col 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      229 

d'Herens.  In  1839,  too,y.  D.  Forbes  (1809-1868,  later  Principal 
of  the  United  College  in  St.  Andrews)  crossed  the  Col  della 
Nouva  (near  Cogne)  and  some  passes  near  Monte  Viso,  also  visit- 
ing the  Veneon  valley  in  the  Dauphine  Alps.  In  1841  he  traversed 
two  glacier  passes  (the  Col  du  Says  and  the  Col  du  Sellar)  in 
the  Dauphine  Alps,  and  two  in  the  Bernese  Oberland  (the  Gauli 
Pass  and  the  Oberaarjoch),  besides  making  the  second  ascent 
of  the  Ewigschneehorn  and  the  fourth  (the  first  non-Swiss)  of 
the  Jungfrau.  In  1842  he  went  over  the  Cols  du  Geant,  de 
Collon,  and  d'Herens,  and  the  St.  Theodule,  ascending  from 
the  Col  d'Herens  the  Stockhorn,  near  by.  In  1844  he  ascended 
the  Wasenhorn,  near  the  Simplon,  while  in  1850  he  crossed  the 
Col  Blanc  (near  the  Col  du  Tour)  and  the  Fenetre  de  Saleinaz. 
This  list  of  Forbes's  climbs  is  really  superb  for  the  time,  and 
entitles  him  (without  in  the  least  taking  into  account  his 
immense  services  to  the  cause  of  natural  science)  to  be  con- 
sidered as  the  earliest  English  mountaineer,  who  regularly 
undertook  high  ascents  for  a  series  of  years,  for  Malkin  con- 
tented himself  mainly  with  passes.  Forbes  tells  us  in  one 
passage  of  his  writings  that  the  Riffelhorn  was  first  climbed  in 
1842  by  some  English  students  from  Fellenberg's  famous  school 
at  Hofwyl,  near  Berne,  but  in  another  place  he  attributes  this 
exploit  to  some  local  goat-herds.  If  we  disregard  this  peak,  as 
being  too  low  to  count,  it  is  Forbes  himself  who  has  the  honour 
of  having  made  the  earhest  '  first  ascents '  achieved  by  a  British 
subject,  for  both  his  Stockhorn  (11,795  ft.),  in  1842,  and  his 
Wasenhorn  (10,680  ft.),  in  1844,  were  apparently  virgin  peaks, 
though  he  is  run  close  by  his  brother  Scotsman,  Mr.  Speer,  who 
in  1845  made  the  first  ascent  of  the  Mittelhorn  (12,166  ft.),  the 
culminating  point  of  the  three  Wetterhorner.  Forbes's  book, 
Travels  through  the  Alps  of  Savoy,  issued  in  1843,  was  the  first 
English  book  (as  distinguished  from  pamphlets,  such  as  those 
published  by  the  heroes  who  went  up  Mont  Blanc)  devoted  to 
the  High  Alps.  In  another  way,  too,  Forbes  is  important  in  the 
history  of  Alpine  exploration,  for  he  tells  us  expressly  that  he 
tried  to  follow  the  example  set  by  Saussure  in  his  great  work 
on  the  Alps,  and  in   1826  he  actually  had  with  him  one  of 


230     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Saussure's  guides,  J.  M.  Cachat,  nicknamed  'le  Geant'  (so 
called  owing  to  his  having  gone  round  the  Aiguille  du  Geant 
on  the  passage  of  the  col  of  that  name).  On  the  other  hand, 
he  encouraged  Wills,  Tuckett,  and  Adams-Reilly,  in  the  period 
from  1857  to  1866,  and  thus  served  as  a  link,  so  to  speak, 
which  bound  Saussure  to  his  true  heirs,  who  half  a  century 
after  his  death  were  just  taking  up  the  non-scientific  as  well  as 
the  scientific  part  of  his  labours  and  carrying  them  towards  their 
ultimate  goal. 

Even  more  important  than  Forbes,  so  far  as  regards  an  active 
and  powerful  direct  influence  on  the  rising  generation  of 
ambitious  English  cUmbers,  is  John  Ba//  (iSiS-i8Sg),  an  Irish- 
man, who,  as  years  went  on,  freed  himself  from  the  cares  of 
State  and  devoted  himself,  more  fervently  than  ever,  to  his 
favourite  pursuit  of  botany,  which  carried  him  far  and  wide 
through  every  district  of  the  Alps.  He  had  tried  Mont  Blanc 
in  1840,  also  climbing  the  Grauhaupt  and  crossing  the  St.  Theo- 
dule.  In  1845  he  discovered  and  traversed  (serving  as  guide  to 
his  so-called  Zermatt  guide)  the  glacier  pass  of  the  Schwarzthor, 
near  Zermatt,  while  in  1852  he  went  over  the  Strahlegg.  But 
his  real  Alpine  career  commenced  in  1853  and  lasted  till  1866. 
He  was  up  the  Gross  Glockner  (perhaps  the  first  Englishman  on 
this  mountain)  in  1854,  while  in  1857  he  made  the  first  ascent 
of  the  Pelmo  (the  first  great  Dolomite  peak  to  feel  man's  foot), 
in  i860  tried  the  yet  virgin  Marmolata  (highest  of  all  Dolomites), 
and  was  the  first  to  reach  the  Cima  Tosa  (1865)  in  the  Brenta 
Dolomites.  His  other  ascents  were  comparatively  unimportant, 
for,  as  a  botanist,  passes  appealed  more  to  him,  and  by  1863 
(as  he  tells  us  himself)  he  had  crossed  the  main  chain  of  the 
Alps  forty-eight  times  by  thirty-two  different  passes,  besides 
traversing  nearly  a  hundred  of  the  lateral  passes.  Of  his  activity 
in  the  early  years  of  the  Alpine  Club  more  will  be  said  below. 
Few  men,  if  any,  have  ever  known  the  whole  of  the  Alps  better 
than  he  did,  while  none  did  while  he  was  in  his  prime.  Yet  in 
the  actual  number  of  high  climbs  he  is  only  among  the  first, 
not  at  the  head  of  the  list,  partly  because  it  scarcely  entered 
into  his  plans  to  undertake  high  expeditions  other  than  those 


I 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      231 

which  might  really  assist  him  in  some  department  (botanical  or 
topographical)  of  his  life's  work. 

By  1850  the  period  of  preparation  had  arrived,  and  English 
climbers  began  to  occupy  the  field.  Whereas  from  1787  to 
1850  there  had  only  been  seventeen  English  (including  the  one 
American  party,  and  Mr.  Nicholson,  who  went  up  in  1843  ^^i'^^ 
the  Prior  of  Chamonix)  ascents  of  Mont  Blanc  to  sixteen  non- 
English,  travellers  of  no  nationaUty  other  than  English  or  Ameri- 
can (eleven  of  these  only)  made  the  ascent  of  Mont  Blanc  in 
1850,  1851,  1852,  1853,  and  1855,  while  in  1854  there  were  three 
non-English  only,  and  in  1856  and  in  1857  but  one.  The  mere 
number  of  ascents  and  travellers  vastly  increased  from  1854 
onwards.  The  sudden  change  is  startling,  and  is  not  altogether 
to  be  explained  by  the  great  vogue  of  Albert  Smith's  enter- 
tainment (in  1852)  on  the  subject  of  his  ascent  in  1851.  It 
is  rather  a  sign  that  at  last  Englishmen  were  waking  up  to  the 
fact  that  '  mountaineering '  is  a  pastime  that  combines  many 
advantages,  and  is  worth  pursuing  as  an  end  in  itself,  without 
any  regard  to  any  thought  of  the  advancement  of  natural 
science. 

Here  let  us  commemorate  briefly  a  bold  young  English 
climber,  Eardley  J.  Blackwell,  whose  memory  now  survives  only 
in  a  few  scattered  notices,  but  whose  exploits  were  very  remark- 
able for  the  date.  In  1850  he  made  the  first  travellers'  passage 
of  the  New  Weissthor  near  Zermatt,  and  traversed  the  Col  du 
Geant.  In  1852  he  crossed,  in  an  unusually  short  time,  the 
Tschingel  Pass  and  the  Strahlegg.  In  June,  1854,  he  climbed 
the  Hasle  Jungfrau  (Wetterhorner)  from  the  Rosenlaui  side 
(being  the  first  Englishman  to  reach  the  summit).  A  few  days 
later  he  tried  it  from  the  Grindelwald  side,  though  failing, 
owing  to  a  violent  storm,  while  the  iron  flag  he  planted  just 
below  the  final  corniche  was  found  three  months  later  by  Mr. 
(later  Sir  Alfred)  Wills.  On  all  these  climbs  he  was  accom- 
panied by  Christian  Bleuer,  one  of  the  early  Grindelwald 
guides,  who  does  not,  however,  seem  to  have  been  with  him 
when  he  ascended  Mont  Blanc  early  in  August,  1854.  Mr. 
Heathman,  who  met  him  in  that  year  at  Chamonix,  tells  us  that 


232     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

he  made  the  last-named  ascent  in  two  hours  less  than  any  pre- 
ceding party.  He  thus  describes  him:  'The  fact  is,  there 
was  no  guide  the  match  for  him.  He  was  six  feet  three,  rather 
bony,  but  carrying  no  weight ;  he  had  the  eye  of  a  hawk  and 
the  legs  of  a  chamois,  combined  with  the  utmost  enterprise, 
perseverance,  and  courage.  He  made  light  of  the  ascent  of 
Mont  Blanc.  As  to  its  difficulties,  he  said  they  by  no  means 
equalled  his  previous  feats,  though  the  time  required  was  longer. 
He  was  perfectly  acquainted  with  every  nook  and  corner  of  the 
Alps,  having  walked  over  them,  in  them,  and  among  them, 
forward  and  backward,  up  and  down,  in  every  direction,  for  three 
years.  On  parting  with  him  for  his  ascent  [of  Mont  Blanc],  I 
wished  him  success,  and  all  the  pleasure  which  he  anticipated, 
"Although,"  said  I,  "I  confess  I  do  not  know  what  that  is." 
He  replied  he  did  not  know  either,  except,  being  an  idle  man, 
he  loved  the  excitement,  and  always  felt  a  desire  to  do  what 
others  had  done  before  him.' 

After  some  preliminary  skirmishes,  for  training  purposes,  the 
ball  was  opened  (quite  apart  from  Mont  Blanc)  in  1854.  The 
establishment  of  the  Hotel  on  the  Riffelberg  (1854)  greatly 
facilitated  excursions  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Monte  Rosa.  In 
1847  MM.  Ordinaire  and  Puiseux  had  made  the  first  attempt  on 
the  highest  peak  from  the  Swiss  side,  but  the  party  only  reached 
the  Silbersattel,  the  depression  between  the  two  highest  summits. 
In  1848  the  two  guides  of  Herr  M.  Ulrich  attained  the  Grenz- 
gipfel  (15,194  ft.),  the  point  at  which  the  great  spur,  on  which 
rises  the  loftiest  point  of  Monte  Rosa,  joins  the  main  watershed, 
and  in  1851  the  brothers  Schlagintweit,  with  two  guides,  gained 
the  same  point.  It  thus  rises  to  the  E.  of  the  highest  crest  of 
Monte  Rosa,  which  is  crowned  by  two  horns — the  Ostspitze 
and  the  Dufourspitze— the  latter  (15,217  ft.)  being  slightly  the 
higher.  Now  it  was  on  September  i,  1854,  that  the  Ostspitze 
was  first  certainly  ascended,  the  conquerors  being  three  young 
Englishmen,  the  brothers  Smyth,  who  were  followed  on  Septem- 
ber II  by  Mr.  E.  S.  Kennedy.  But  neither  of  these  parties, 
for  reasons  now  undiscoverable,  pushed  on  to  the  W.,  over  the 
not  difficult  ridge,  to  the  very  loftiest  summit.     A  few  days  after 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      233 

these  exploits,  on  September  17,  1854,  Mr.  (now  Sir  Alfred) 
Wills  succeeded  in  making  the  first  ascent  of  the  Hasle  Jung- 
frau  peak  (already  ascended  at  least  twice  previously  by  another 
route)  from  Grindelwald ;  it  had  been  nearly  attained  by  the 
same  route,  on  June  13,  by  Mr.  Eardley  J.  Blackwell,  another 
Englishman,  and  attempted  as  early  as  1845  by  a  Swiss  party. 
These  two  ascents,  especially  that  of  the  Wetterhorn,  which  was 
quite  complete,  open  the  era  of  English  rule  over  the  highest 
summits  of  the  Alps.  Next  year,  on  July  31,  1855,  a  large 
English  party,  comprising  the  Revs.  Christopher  and  Grenville 
Smyth  (two  of  the  heroes  of  1854),  E.  J.  Stevenson,  and  Charles 
Hudson  (to  perish  in  1865  on  the  Matterhorn)  and  Mr.  J.  Birk- 
beck,  with  four  guides,  at  length  attained  the  very  highest  tip  of 
the  loftiest  point  of  Monte  Rosa,  the  second  peak  in  the  Alps, 
then  first  won  by  man — they  took  the  now  usual  route  from  the 
Sattel  on  the  W.,  which  does  not  seem  to  have  been  tried  before. 
A  fortnight  later,  on  August  14,  the  two  Smyths  and  Mr. 
Hudson,  with  the  addition  of  Messrs.  E.  S.  Kennedy  and 
C.  Ainslie,  but  without  guides,  had  the  honour  of  making  the 
first  ascent  of  Mont  Blanc  from  St.  Gervais  by  way  of  the 
Dome  du  Goiter,  thus  opening  up  a  new  route  which  enabled 
travellers  to  resist  the  exactions  of  the  Chamonix  guides.  The 
party  descended  from  the  Dome  to  the  Grand  Plateau  and  com- 
pleted the  ascent  by  the  ordinary  route.  It  was  not  till  1859 
that  a  party  ventured  to  push  from  the  Grand  Plateau  over  the 
Bosses  du  Dromadaire  to  the  summit,  while  it  was  only  in  1861 
that  the  first  complete  ascent  from  St.  Gervais  over  the  Dome 
and  the  Bosses  was  effected.  But  the  exploit  of  1855  was  a 
very  great  one,  and  all  the  more  noteworthy  because  on  August  8 
previous,  the  same  party,  with  Messrs.  Stevenson  and  Joad,  but 
without  guides  also,  had  very  nearly  effected  the  ascent  of  Mont 
Blanc  from  the  Col  du  Geant  by  way  of  the  Mont  Blanc  du 
Tacul ;  this  way  had  been  tried  on  July  31,  by  Mr.  (now  Sir)  J.  H. 
Ramsay,  who  actually  reached  the  Mur  de  la  Cote,  whereas  the 
others  were  driven  back  from  the  top  of  the  Mont  Blanc  du 
Tacul  (13,941  ft.),  of  which  one  member  of  the  party  made  the 
first  ascent  in  order  to  reconnoitre.   Messrs.  Hudson  and  Kennedy 


234     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

published  an  account  of  their  feat  of  1855  on  Mont  Blanc 
under  the  title  of  Where  there  ^s  a  Will  there 's  a  Way  (to 
the  second  edition,  also  issued  in  1856,  there  was  added  an 
account  of  the  conquest  of  Monte  Rosa),  while  in  1856  Mr. 
Wills  published  his  Wanderings  among  the  High  Alps,  that  was 
followed  in  1857  by  Mr.  Hinchliff's  Summer  Months  among  the 
Alps ;  these  three  works  were  the  first  literary  products  of  the 
new  English  school  of  mountaineers,  and  so  are  historically  very 
important.  In  1856  a  number  of  young  Englishmen  tried, 
though  in  vain,  to  complete  the  St.  Gervais  route  by  the  Bosses, 
and  to  strike  out  a  new  route  up  Mont  Blanc  from  the  Col  de 
Miage.  This  party  (none  of  whom  have  yet  been  named)  repre- 
sents an  accession  of  numbers  to  those  of  1855.  In  1857  still 
more  new  men  come  into  prominence.  On  August  13  the  Rev.  J. 
F.  Hardy,  Messrs.  William  and  St.  John  Mathews,  R.  EUis, 
and  E.  S.  Kennedy,  with  a  number  of  guides,  achieved  the  first 
English  ascent  of  the  Finsteraarhorn  (the  fifth  in  all,  though 
the  second  by  travellers),  while  on  August  20  Mr.  John  Ball 
reached  (alone)  the  lowest  of  the  three  summits  of  the  Trugberg, 
and  on  September  19  (again  alone)  the  highest  point  of  the 
Pelmo  in  the  Dolomites,  both  'first  ascents.'  Mr.  William 
Mathews  had  in  1854  climbed  the  Mont  Velan,  and  in  1856 
Monte  Rosa,  and  on  August  19,  1857,  was  the  first  traveller  to 
reach  the  Pointe  de  Graffeneire  (14,108  ft.),  only  fifty-six  feet 
below  the  highest  point  of  the  Grand  Combin,  while  on  August 
7,  1857,  Mr.  Eustace  Anderson,  attempting  the  Gross  Schreck- 
horn,  had  vanquished  the  Klein  Schreckhorn. 

The  idea  of  founding  a  society  to  serve  as  a  rallying-point  for 
all  Englishmen  interested  in  the  novel  pastime  of  moun- 
taineering was  first  thrown  out  in  a  letter  written  on  February  i, 
1857,  by  Mr.  Mathews  to  Mr.  Hort.  On  August  3,  1857,  Mr. 
William  Mathews  made  the  acquaintance  of  Mr.  Kennedy,  while 
both  were  walking  down  the  Hasle  valley,  a  few  days  before  their 
joint  ascent  of  the  Finsteraarhorn.  The  idea  quickly  ripened, 
and  took  form  on  November  6,  1857,  at  a  private  dinner  held  at 
the  residence  of  the  Mathews  family  in  Birmingham,  several 
members  of  that  family  being  present  as  well  as  Mr.  Kennedy. 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      235 

If  the  first  idea  came  from  Mr.  William  Mathews  (i 828-1901), 
there  is  no  doubt  that  it  was  Mr.  Kennedy  (1817-1898)  'who 
was  chiefly  responsible  for  carrying  the  idea  into  practical  effect,' 
for  he  it  was  who  communicated  with  the  English  climbers  of 
the  day,  inviting  them  to  join  together  with  this  object  in  view. 
His  letters  met  with  unexpected  success ;  the  first  meeting  was 
held  on  December  22,  1857,  and  the  first  dinner  (for  originally 
the  '  Alpine  Club '  was  merely  a  dining  society,  hence  its  name, 
thou2;h  it  would  be  better  described  as  an  '  Association '  or  a 
'Society')  took  place  on  February  2,  1858,  when  Mr.  Kennedy 
was  elected  Vice-President,  and  Mr.  Hinchliff  (1826-1882) 
Honorary  Secretary ;  the  Presidency  was  not  filled  up  till 
March  31,  1858,  when  Mr.  John  Ball  was  elected  to  the  office. 
The  list  of  '  original  members '  (several  of  whom  still  survive, 
though  two  only  are  still  in  the  Club)  contained  thirty-four 
names,  but  in  1859  there  were  already  one  hundred  and  twenty- 
four  members,  while  on  July  19,  1859,  J.  D.  Forbes  was  most 
deservedly  elected  the  first  Honorary  Member. 

It  was  obvious  that  the  young  society  must  justify  its  existence 
to  the  outer  world,  then  still  somewhat  sceptical  as  to  the 
advantages  of  mountaineering.  Its  first  literary  production, 
entitled  Peaks,  Passes,  and  Glaciers,  and  edited  by  Mr.  John  Ball, 
appeared  in  the  spring  of  1859,  while  in  1862  a  second  series  in 
two  volumes,  but  under  the  same  title,  was  brought  out  under 
the  direction  of  the  indefatigable  Mr.  Kennedy.  Both  works 
met  with  great  success,  though  scoffers  were  not  wanting  to 
predict  evil  things  as  to  this  novel  method  of  trying  to  break 
one's  neck. 

The  years  that  lie  between  1859  and  1865  are  the  '  golden  age ' 
of  mountaineering.  The  Chronological  List,  printed  as  Appen- 
dix II.  below,  will  show  how  peak  after  peak  fell  before  the 
furious  onslaught  of  the  youthful  enthusiasts.  Among  the  most 
brilliant  lights  of  that  wonderful  period,  four  men  (we  mention 
only  those  who  have  passed  away  from  us)  stand  out  above  their 
fellows.  William  Matheivs  swept  through  the  Western  and 
Central  Alps,  his  most  glorious  conquests  (after  1857)  being  the 
Eigerjoch  and  the  Lysjoch  (1859),   the  Grande  Casse  (i860), 


236     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Monte  Viso  (1861),  and  Mont  Pourri  (1862,  reached  first  in 
in  October  1861  by  his  guide,  Michel  Croz) ;  his  explorations  in 
the  South-Western  Alps  and  elsewhere  form  one  of  the  most 
brilliant  pages  in  the  annals  of  mountaineering,  and  make  one 
regret  that  his  active  climbing  career  extended  only  from  1854 
to  1863.  Next  we  have  Leslie  Stephen  (1832-1904),  with  his 
grand  bag  of  Alpine  novelties,  mainly  in  the  Bernese  Oberland 
— Eigerjoch,  Bietschhorn,  and  Rimpfischhorn  (1859),  Bliimlis- 
alphorn  and  Oberaarhorn  (i860),  Gross  Schreckhorn  (1861), 
Jungfraujoch,  Fiescherjoch,  and  Monte  della  Disgrazia  (1862), 
and  Zinal  Rothhorn  (1864),  while  the  Mont  Mallet  (187 1)  and 
Col  des  Hirondelles  (1873),  as  well  as  his  historic  Dolomite 
wanderings  (1869)  and  his  splendid  book  (1871),  belong  to  a 
later  period.  Then  we  have  A.  IV.  Moore  (1841-1887),  the 
English  climber  who  devoted  himself  most  fervently  to  the 
Bernese  Oberland,  though  his  list  includes  many  other  mag- 
nificent climbs — Jungfraujoch,  Gross  Fiescherhorn,  Sesiajoch 
(1862),  the  Pointe  des  Ecrins  and  the  Col  de  la  Pilatte,  both  in 
the  Dauphine  Alps,  and  the  Moming  Pass  (1864),  the  Ober 
Gabelhorn,  Mont  Blanc  from  the  Brenva  glacier,  and  Piz  Roseg 
(1865),  besides  his  passages  (1866)  of  the  Strahlegg  and  the 
Finsteraarjoch  in  winter,  thus  opening  up  a  new  form  of  moun- 
taineering. His  book  The  Alps  in  1864  (privately  issued  in 
1867,  published  in  1902)  is  one  of  the  most  delightful  works  on 
the  Alps  ever  written.  And,  as  we  think  of  these  three  EngUsh- 
men  who  so  loved  the  Bernese  Oberland,  let  us  join  with  them 
the  Bernese  climber,  Edmund  von  Fellenberg  (i  838-1 902),  whose 
entire  Alpine  career,  from  1856  to  1883,  was  exclusively  given 
to  that  district,  which  he  knew  topographically,  geologically,  and 
bibliographically,  perhaps  better  than,  certainly  as  well  as,  any 
of  his  contemporaries.  Let  us  also  record  here  the  fact  that  the 
twelve  sheets  of  the  Dufour  map  which  figure  the  Swiss  Alps 
were  published  between  1845  and  1865,  the  name  Dufourspitze 
being  conferred  in  1863  on  the  highest  point  of  Monte  Rosa 
(the  loftiest  peak  rising  wholly  within  Swiss  territory)  by  the 
Swiss  Federal  Government  in  honour  of  the  head  of  the  survey 
thus  happily  completed  (the  original  minutes  on  a  large  scale, 


EXPLORATION  OF  THE  HIGH  ALPS      237 

now  known  as  the  Siegfried  Atlas,  were  issued  from  1870 
onwards). 

The  glorious  weather  that  prevailed  during  the  summer  of 
1 86 1  was  profitably  employed  to  conquer  many  lofty  peaks  that 
had  hitherto  defied  the  efforts  of  puny  men  to  surmount  them. 
The  harvest  was  less  plentiful  in  1862,  the  year  which  saw  the 
foundation  of  the  Austrian  Alpine  Club,  the  first  child  of 
the  Alpine  Club.  But  the  year  1863  saw  many  fresh  defeats 
of  proud  peaks.  It  was  noteworthy,  too,  for  a  series  of  events 
which  showed  how  the  taste  for  climbing  was  extending  and 
developing.  In  March,  1863,  the  Alpine  Club  issued  the  first 
number  of  the  Alpine  Journal^  a  quarterly  intended  to  appear 
more  frequently  than  annual  or  triennial  volumes,  and  the  first 
periodical  that  was  wholly  devoted  to  the  mountains.  In  April, 
1863,  the  Swiss  Alpine  Club  was  founded,  and  in  October  the 
Italian  Alpine  Club.  Finally,  in  July,  1863,  Mr.  John  Ball 
brought  out  vol.  i.  (Western  Alps)  of  his  Alpt?ie  Guide,  in  the 
compilation  of  which  all  the  prominent  English  climbers  of  the 
day  had  assisted  him.  Thus  the  Alps  had  now  a  special 
periodical  and  a  special  guide-book  of  their  own.  Mr.  Ball's 
second  vol.  (Central  Alps)  was  issued  in  1864,  but  vol.  iii., 
describing  the  Eastern  Alps,  did  not  come  out  till  1868. 

The  climbing  season  of  1864  was  by  far  the  most  brilliant 
that  had  yet  been  recorded.  Yet  its  splendour  pales  before 
the  extraordinary  triumphs  achieved  in  that  of  1865,  as  will  be 
seen  on  reference  to  our  Chronological  List  (Appendix  11.), 
though  this  does  not  reckon  in  the  numerous  difficult  glacier 
passes  that  were  forced  in  these  two  memorable  years. 

Shall  we  say  that  pride  goes  before  a  fall  ?  or  shall  we  count 
it  simply  as  a  last  expiring  act  of  revenge  on  the  part  of  the 
Spirit  of  the  Mountains  ?  The  great  exploit  of  the  summer  of 
1865  was  the  conquest  of  the  Matterhorn,  that  proud  summit 
which  for  years  had  baffled  the  most  persevering  efforts  of  the 
most  accomplished  mountaineers,  amateur  or  professional. 
Yet  on  July  14,  it,  too,  had  to  yield  to  the  foot  of  man,  while  the 
ascent,  achieved  by  a  route  hitherto  never  seriously  attempted, 
proved  far  easier  than  had  ever  been  anticipated.     But,  as  is 


238     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

well  known,  on  the  descent,  a  frightful  accident  occurred, 
wherein  four  men  perished,  while  three  (Mr.  E.  Whymper 
and  two  Zermatt  guides)  were  saved  by  the  breaking  of  the 
rope  between  the  two  divisions  of  the  party.  Those  who 
died  in  the  moment  of  victory  were  the  Rev.  Charles  Hudson 
(b.  1828),  often  mentioned  above;  Lord  Francis  Douglas 
(b.  1847),  ^  very  skilful  mountaineer;  Mr.  D.  Hadow,  a 
young  man,  spending  his  first  season  amongst  the  Alps;  and 
the  guide,  Michel  Croz  (b.  1830),  of  Chamonix,  one  of  the  best 
of  the  day.  Though  this  catastrophe  occurred  quite  early  in  the 
season,  its  full  effect  was  not  realised  till  after  its  close.  Never 
before  had  so  many  lives — still  less  those  of  three  Englishmen — 
been  lost  at  one  time  on  a  high  peak,  never  before  had  such 
experienced  climbers  paid  the  penalty  of  a  shp,  never  before  had 
a  'milor's'  life  ended  in  such  tragic  fashion,  never  before  had 
victory  in  the  Alps  been  so  quickly  followed  by  Death.  It  was 
the  most  dramatic  event  in  a  most  dramatic  year,  and  the  cause 
of  mountaineering  seemed  to  be  lost  for  ever,  so  deep  and 
lasting  was  the  impression  made  by  this  terrible  event. 


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CHAPTER  X 

MODERN   MOUNTAINEERING  IN    THE    HIGH    ALPS 

THREE  days  after  the  Matterhorn  accident,  and  on  the 
very  day  when  that  peak  was  first  attained  from  the 
Italian  side,  the  present  writer  made  his  first  Alpine  ascent,  that 
of  the  Niesen,  near  Thun.  Two  months  later  he  made  his  first 
glacier  expedition,  the  Strahlegg,  and  visited  Zermatt.  He  was 
thus  one  of  the  earliest  recruits  to  mountaineering  after  the 
accident,  and  went  on  climbing  for  thirty-three  years.  Hence  he 
can  recollect  vividly  the  sort  of  palsy  that  fell  upon  the  good  cause 
after  that  frightful  catastrophe  of  July  14,  1865,  particularly 
amongst  English  climbers.  Few  in  numbers,  all  knowing  each 
other  personally,  shunning  the  public  gaze  as  far  as  possible 
(and  in  those  days  it  was  possible  to  do  so),  they  went  about 
under  a  sort  of  dark  shade,  looked  on  with  scarcely  disguised 
contempt  by  the  world  of  ordinary  travellers.  They,  so  to  speak, 
climbed  on  sufferance,  enjoying  themselves  much,  it  is  true,  but 
keeping  all  expression  of  that  joy  to  themselves  in  order  not  to 
excite  derision.  There  were  then  few  Club  huts  and  few  con- 
veniences in  the  shape  of  high  mountain  hotels.  But  there  was 
no  crowd  on  the  hills,  and  one  could  still  revel  in  the  silence 
that  reigned  among  them.  The  journey  from  England  to  the  Alps 
was  still  expensive  and  took  a  long  time.  That  drawback  did  not 
affect  foreign  climbers  so  much,  but  even  they  felt  the  mountain 
gloom  that  prevailed.  A  glance  at  our  Chronological  List  of 
Ascents  (Appendix  11.)  will  show  that  from  1866  till  about  1870 
not  so  many  important  peaks  (yet  there  was  no  lack  of  abundance 
of  such  peaks  to  conquer)  were  vanquished  as  during  the 
previous  five  or  six  years.     A  closer  study  will  reveal  the  fact 

239 


240     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

that  the  summits  which  fell  in  that  dark  period  were  the  booty  of 
relatively  very  few  men,  though  this  feature  was  perhaps  less  well 
marked  in  the  Eastern  Alps.  Two  personal  experiences  may 
illustrate  this  sorrowful  period  in  the  history  of  climbing.  Early 
in  July,  1 868,  the  present  writer  met,  in  the  Gleckstein  cave  on 
the  Wetterhorn,  Mr.  Julius  Elliott  (who  was  killed  next  year  on 
the  Schreckhorn).  In  the  course  of  conversation  Mr.  Elliott 
revealed,  almost  under  the  seal  of  confession,  his  strong  desire, 
even  his  fixed  intention,  to  attempt  shortly  the  Matterhorn  from 
the  Swiss  side.  This  feat  he  achieved  a  fortnight  later,  this 
being  the  first  complete  ascent  on  that  side  since  the  accident. 
It  caused  a  very  great  sensation,  as  it  proved  that  the  expedition 
was  not  so  absolutely  certain  to  end  fatally  as  had  been 
imagined  by  many.  The  charm  had  been  broken,  but  it 
required  a  man  of  strong  will  to  break  it.  Some  years  later,  in 
1 87 1,  when  it  fell  to  the  turn  of  the  present  writer  to  ascend  the 
Matterhorn,  it  was  still  considered  a  most  remarkable  thing  that 
within  the  same  week  two  ascents  of  the  dreaded  peak  should 
have  been  made  with  complete  success. 

Little  by  little  the  inevitable  reaction  set  in,  as  it  was  more 
and  more  clearly  realised  that  climbing  high  peaks  did  not 
without  fail  end  in  a  catastrophe.  In  1869  the  German  Alpine 
Club  was  founded,  and  in  1873  it  was  united  with  the  Austrian 
Alpine  Club  (founded  in  1862)  under  the  name  of  the  '  German 
and  Austrian  Alpine  Club.'  In  1870  (despite  the  war)  the 
number  of  fine  new  climbs,  especially  those  made  by  Englishmen, 
shows  a  distinct  advance.  This  fresh  start  is  particularly  marked 
in  187 1.  In  that  year  also  Leslie  Stephen  published  his  delightful 
work  The  Flaygroutid  of  Europe,  and  Mr.  Whymper  his  remark- 
able Scrambles  amongst  the  Alps  in  the  Years  1860-9,  both  books 
stimulating  powerfully  the  new  current  that  had  begun  to  run 
again  after  being  blocked  for  several  years.  In  187 1,  too,  the 
Alpine  Club  took  a  fresh  lease  of  life.  It  had  been  held  by 
some  that  all  the  Alps  being  now  conquered,  its  task  was  over, 
and  that  its  periodical,  the  Alpi?ie  Journal,  might  well  be  allowed 
to  expire,  through  the  apprehended  difficulty  of  securing 
material  wherewith  to  fill  its  pages.     But  the  appointments,  at 


1 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  241 

the  end  of  187 1,  of  Mr.  A.  W.  Moore  as  Honorary  Secretary  of 
the  Club,  and  of  Mr.  Douglas  Freshfield  as  Editor  of  the 
Alpine  Journal,  proved  the  turning-point  in  its  fortunes.  In 
1861  it  had  numbered  but  158  members,  but  in  1871  the  list 
rose  to  298  and  in  1875  ^o  361.  The  bold  ascent  of  Monte 
Rosa  from  Macugnaga,  in  1872,  by  the  Rev.  C.  Taylor  and  Messrs. 
R.  and  W.  M.  Pendlebury,  showed  that  the  Alps  were  not  yet 
'  exhausted,'  and  the  lists  of  new  ascents  begin  to  increase  year 
by  year.  In  January,  1874,  great  Alpine  peaks  (the  Wetterhorn 
and  the  Jungfrau)  were  ascended  for  the  first  time  in  winter, 
both  exploits  being  achieved  by  the  present  writer's  aunt  (whom 
he  accompanied),  these  climbs  indicating  also  the  gradual  spread 
of  mountaineering  by  ladies,  which  was  still  in  its  infancy.  In 
1874,  too,  the  French  Alpine  Club  was  founded,  the  latest  born 
of  the  great  Alpine  Clubs  of  Europe.  The  '  revival '  was  now  in 
full  swing  and  was  never  more  to  be  checked.  Yet  it  was  from 
the  end  of  the  '  seventies '  that  fatal  accidents  in  the  High  Alps 
became  more  and  more  common.  Hitherto  they  had  been  com- 
paratively rare.  Now  they  increased  in  number  even  more 
rapidly  than  did  the  rising  number  of  persons  who  made  high 
ascents.  Perhaps  this  was  due  to  a  diminution  in  the  feeling  of 
mystery  and  awe  that  had  long  half-veiled  the  mountains, 
perhaps  to  a  lamentable  want  of  prudence,  due  also  to  the 
growing  familiarity  with  the  Alps,  though  not  with  their  dangers. 
The  present  writer  realised  all  too  keenly  this  terrible  growth  in 
the  number  of  Alpine  accidents,  for  he  was  Editor  of  the 
Alpine  Journal  (in  succession  to  Mr.  Freshfield)  from  1880  to 
1889,  and  he  will  never  forget  the  distressing  task  that  awaited 
him  every  autumn  of  telling  the  tale  (in  a  double  sense)  of  the 
mishaps  of  the  past  season,  and  then  of  passing  judgment  upon 
the  unfortunate  victims. 

This  revived  interest  in  climbing  naturally  brought  with  it 
new  developments,  whether  for  good  or  for  evil.  Let  us 
therefore  pause  here  a  moment  in  order  to  mention  certain 
matters  that  are  only  indirectly  connected  with  these  new 
developments. 

The  twenty  years  that  elapsed  between  187 1-3  and  189 1-3  saw 
Q 


242     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  completion  of  the  conquest  of  the  Alps,  to  mention  only  the 
most  glorious  feats  of  arms — the   two  summits  of  the  Rosen- 
garten  in  1872  and  1874,  the  Sass  Maor  in  1875,  the  Meije  in 
1877,  the  Aiguille  du  Dru  in   1878,   the  Aiguille   des  Grands 
Charmoz    in     1880,    the    Aiguille   de   Grepon    in     1881,    the 
Aiguille  Blanche  de  Peteret  in  1885,  and  a  whole  series  of  not 
very  lofty  but  exceedingly  difficult  Dolomite  needles  between 
1884  (Croda  da  Lago)  and  1890  (the  Fiinffingerspitze).     It  saw 
also  the  reorganisation  of  the  practical  side  of  climbing — new 
Club  huts  were  built,  new  high  mountain  hotels  were  opened, 
detailed    special    maps    and    guide-books    for    climbers    only 
appeared  in  rapid   succession ;  everything  was  made  more  con- 
venient  for    the    new    generation,    who,    however,    found   that 
little   more  was   left   to   them  in  search   of  novelty   than   the 
discovery  of  'new  routes'  and  of  'inaccessible'  pinnacles  which 
received  names  only  after  they  had  been  vanquished.     Among 
the  more  prominent  climbers  of  the  post-1865  period  a  few  may 
be  here  commemorated,  keeping  to  our  rule  that  only  those  are 
spoken  of  who  are  now  at  rest.       Charles   Edward  Mathews 
(1834-1905),  younger  brother  of  William   Mathews,  began   his 
Alpine  career  indeed  before  1857,  and  was  one  of  the  founders 
of  the  Alpine  Club.     But  his  best  climbs  were  made  after  1865, 
while  his  one  book,  the  Annals  of  Mont  Blanc,  did  not  appear 
till  1898.     Another  devoted  lover  of  the  Mont  Blanc  chain  was 
Charles   Mathews's  close  friend,  Anthony  Adams-Reilly  (1836- 
1885),  whose  admirable  maps  of  that  chain  (1865)  and  of  the 
Southern  Valleys  of  Monte  Rosa  (1868)  are  most  remarkable, 
viewed   as   achievements  of  a  single   amateur,   for,    so   far   as 
topography  goes,  they  bear  well  a  comparison  with  the  work  of 
the  great  Government  Surveys.      Horace    Walker  (i 838-1 908), 
like  C.  E.  Mathews,  did  much  of  his  best  Alpine  work  after 
1865,    though   his   Alpine   career    began    in     1854.      He    un- 
fortunately wrote  but  little  about  his  experiences,   though  he 
was  probably  the  senior  Alpine  climber  on  the  roll  when  his 
activity  came  to  an  end  in  1905.    Another  name  cannot  be  passed 
over,  although  comparatively  little  has  been  published  as  to  his 
climbs,  which  began  before   1857 — the  Swiss  Eugene  Ranihert 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  243 

(1830-1886),  for  the  5  vols,  of  his  Alpes  Suisses  (1866-1875, 
new  edition  in  6  vols.,  1887-9)  contain  but  few  personal  im- 
pressions of  his  ascents.  And  his  name  cannot  be  separated 
from  that  of  his  pupil,  so  to  speak,  Emi/e /avelle  (1847-1883),  a 
Frenchman  by  birth,  but  a  Swiss  by  adoption,  whose  Souvenirs 
d^un  A /pim's^e  appesLved  in  1886.  Of  the  younger  or  post-1870 
generation  the  following  adventurers  are  associated  with  some 
magnificent,  if  too  daring,  feats  of  climbing.  A.  F.  Mummery 
(1855-1895)  devoted  himself  mainly  to  the  Mont  Blanc 
Aiguilles  and  to  the  Matterhorn,  so  far  as  the  Alps  were  con- 
cerned, but  he  also  climbed  in  the  Caucasus  and  perished  in  the 
Himalaya — his  one  book.  My  Climbs  in  the  Alps  and  Caucasus^ 
was  issued  in  1895,  j^st  before  his  untimely  end.  Then  we 
have  L-udwig  Normait-Neruda  (i  864-1 898),  most  cosmopolitan 
of  mountaineers,  for  he  boasted  of  having  no  fewer  than  seven 
mother-tongues.  He  was  most  fascinated  by  the  Dolomites, 
which  figured  largely  in  the  posthumous  collection  of  his 
writings,  published  in  1899.  It  was  during  this  later  period 
from  the  early  seventies  onwards  that  the  '  Austrian  school  of 
mountaineers'  made  its  mark  and  startled  many  steady-going 
persons  by  the  extraordinarily  bold  exploits  of  its  members.  Its 
chief  was  Ludivig  Purtscheller  (i  849-1 900),  who  climbed  in 
every  district  of  the  Alps,  so  that  his  list  of  high  ascents  is  nearly, 
though  not  quite  (so  he  personally  assured  us,  after  his  last 
climb)  equal  in  point  of  mere  numbers  to  that  of  the  present 
writer.  His  articles  were  collected  after  his  death  by  his  friends 
in  a  volume  entitled  Ueber  Fels  und  Firn,  that  was  given  to  the 
world  in  1901,  though  his  excellent  guide  for  mountaineers  in 
the  Eastern  Alps,  the  Hochtourist  in  den  Ostalpeti  (written  by 
him  in  conjunction  with  Herr  H.  Hess),  first  appeared  in  1894 
in  2  vols.,  and  is  now  in  its  third  edition  (3  vols.,  1903). 
Next  to  him  comes  Emil  Zsigmondy  (1861-1885),  ^ho  was 
mainly  attracted  by  the  Eastern  Alps,  in  particular  by  the 
Dolomites,  though  he  was  killed  on  the  Meije  in  the  Dauphine 
Alps:  his  writings,  too,  were  posthumously  collected  in  1889 
under  the  title  of  Im  Hochgebirge,  while  it  is  sad  to  relate  that 
his  excellent  booklet  on  the  Dangers  of  the  Alps  was  issued  just 


244     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

before  his  tragical  end.  Junior  to  both,  but  a  remarkable 
personality  among  the  most  daring  climbers  of  his  day,  was 
Robert  Hans  Schmitt  (1870-1899),  who,  in  his  short  career, 
accomplished  what  had  previously  been  considered  as  impos- 
sibilities in  the  Dolomites. 

Of  Italian  climbers  who  have  passed  away  two  deserve 
mention  as  most  successful  and  persevering  explorers  of  the 
Piedmontese  Alps — Martino  Baretti  (i 843-1 905)  and  Luigi 
Vaccarone  (i  849-1 903).  Both  published  only  articles  as  to  their 
personal  experiences  and  climbs.  But  the  former  issued  many 
tracts  on  Alpine  geology,  while  the  latter  (being  an  archivist 
by  profession)  paid  much  attention  to  the  local  mediaeval 
history  of  the  Western  Alps.  He  also  put  forth  a  most  interesting 
monograph  (188 1)  on  that  strange  tunnel  pierced  about  1480 
beneath  the  Col  de  la  Traversette,  near  Monte  Viso,  a  work 
of  unequal  value  (1884)  on  the  history  of  the  Passes  of  the 
Western  Alps,  and  a  most  useful  Ust  of  First  Ascents  in  the 
Western  Alps  (excluding  however,  the  main  Dauphine  Alps), 
that  reached  a  third  edition  in  1890.  Much  of  Signor 
Vaccarone's  practical  knowledge  of  the  Alps  was  incorporated 
in  his  admirable  guide-book  (executed  with  the  aid  of  two 
friends),  the  Guida  delle  Alpi  Occidentali  (3  vols.,  1889-1896), 
which,  despite  its  general  title,  treats  almost  exclusively  of  the 
Italian  slope  of  the  Western  Alps. 

Here  it  may  be  convenient  to  say  what  we  have  to  say  as 
to  the  numbers  of  the  great  national  Alpine  Clubs,  premising 
that  the  English  Club  is  the  only  one  that  requires  a  high 
climbing  qualification  for  membership,  the  foreign  societies  being 
content  with  the  expression  of  an  interest  (sometimes  very 
Platonic)  in  the  mountains.  The  Alpine  Club  increased  from 
298  members  in  1871  to  361  in  1875,  444  i^  1881,  509  in 
1891,  611  in  1901,  and  677  in  1908.  The  numbers  of  the  chief 
foreign  Clubs  at  the  end  of  1907  were  approximately  the  follow- 
ing :  the  German  and  Austrian  Alpine  Club,  about  78,500  ;  the 
Swiss  Alpine  Club,  about  9700 ;  the  Italian  Alpine  Club,  about 
6500  ;  and  the  French  Alpine  Club,  about  5600. 

Let  us  now  describe  and  appreciate  the  new  developments 


>  1 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  245 

of  mountaineering  that  have  taken  place  in  the  last  thirty  years 
or  so,  that  is,  since  the  revival,  though  they  did  not  follow  it 
immediately. 

One   of  the   first   points  that  strikes  an  old  stager  like  the 
present  writer  is  the  rapid  decline  of  the  habit  of  making  long 
journeys    in    the    High    Alps,    so   as   to   include  in  the  same 
season  a  visit  to  several  districts.     This  involved  crossing  many 
passes,  peaks  being  climbed  on  the  way  or  during  a  short  stay 
at  some  favourite  Alpine  resort.     But  nowadays,  though  there 
has  very  recently  been  a   slight   revival   in   this  respect,   most 
mountaineers   choose   some   '  centre '  for  their  season's  work, 
settle    down   there,   and   explore    the  high   peaks   in   the    im- 
mediate  neighbourhood,    carefully  avoiding   passes    as   far    as 
may  be   possible.      It  is  obvious  that  such  a  plan  has   great 
conveniences — one   gets   good   rooms   at    the   selected    hotel ; 
one  is    comfortably   installed   for   some    time   with    plenty  of 
luggage;    one    enjoys     the     society    of    a    set    of    congenial 
spirits,   who   almost   form  a  coterie;  one  has  not,  save  rarely, 
to  sleep  away  from   one's  temporary  home.     But   hotels  well 
situated  for  such  a  manner  of  spending  one's  holiday  are  not 
too    numerous,    looked    at    solely   as    starting-points    for  high 
climbs.     Stopping,  too,  in  one  place  tends  to  narrow  a  man's 
interests,  especially  if  he  goes  back  again  and  again  to  the  one 
chosen  spot,  for  though   he  may  know  it  in  great  detail,   he 
loses   the  benefits  of  change   of  surroundings,   not  to  say  of 
atmosphere.     Such  a   'centrist'  reminds  one  of  the  man  who 
should  fix  himself  in  Florence  or  in  Rome,  and  then  plume 
himself  on   his   knowledge  of  Italy.     The  Alps  are  wide,  and 
each  resort  has  its    own    particular    charms,  as  well  as  draw- 
backs.      It    seems    a   pity    not   to   give   to   places  other  than 
one's  favourite  haunt  some  little  chance,  even  if  one's  wander- 
ings confirm  the  belief  that  the  chosen  spot  excels  all  others. 
At  any  rate,  a  wanderer  has  seen  the  '  world,'  and  knows  more 
than    his   own    village.      The    fashion    of    '  traversing '    peaks, 
that  is,  going  up  one   side  and    down  the   other,  accounts  in 
part   for   the   disfavour  into  which  passes  (except  where  they 
offer    special    difficulties   or   dangers)   have    fallen.      Yet   the 


246     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

crossing  of  a  great  pass  is  most  interesting.  The  scenery 
shifts  from  hour  to  hour,  and  that  breaks,  at  least  in  part,  the 
monotony  of  tramping  over  long  snow-fields.  One  gets  a  far 
better  idea  of  the  topography  of  a  region  than  one  can  obtain 
by  an  hour's  stay  even  on  the  most  admirably  situated  summit ; 
one  feels  that  a  real  journey  has  been  made  from  one  place  to 
another,  and  not  merely  a  day's  excursion  from  home  and 
back.  The  present  writer  has  tried  both  '  wandering '  and 
'  centre-dwelling,'  and  has  no  hesitation  in  preferring  the 
former,  though  occasionally  a  halt  of  a  few  days  at  a  centre 
forms  an  agreeable  interlude  and  a  rest  from  perpetual  journey- 
ing. However,  tastes  will  always  differ  on  this  point.  Here 
we  have  only  wished  to  lay  stress  on  the  certain  fact  that  the 
older  climbers  '  wandered,'  while  their  younger  successors  settle 
down  at  'centres.'  Yet,  as  hinted  above,  there  are  not  wanting 
signs  that  a  few  of  the  climbers  of  to-day  have  rediscovered 
the  delights  of  'wandering,'  and  the  fact  that  the  difficulties 
apprehended  as  to  luggage  and  language  are  not  so  formidable 
as  they  appear  to  be  at  first  sight. 

A  second  characteristic  of  modern  mountaineering  is  the 
strong  preference  shown  for  rock  peaks  and  the  almost 
passionate  dislike  felt  (after  one  has  done  one's  '  duty  peaks  ') 
for  snow  mountains.  To  some  men  rock  clambering  is  the 
one  and  only  form  of  mountaineering.  No  matter  about  the 
height,  or  position  of  the  peak,  provided  it  offers  a  good 
scramble  or  an  exciting  climb.  In  some  ways  this  tendency 
is  a  'throwback'  to  the  greased  pole  enthusiasts  at  whom 
Ruskin  used  to  gibe.  No  one  can  maintain  that  the  ascent 
of  a  difficult  snow  peak  is  not  quite  as  great  a  tax  on  a  man's 
energy  and  nerve  as  that  of  a  rock  needle.  But  on  a  rock 
peak  it  is  clear  that  certain  difficulties  of  a  snow  ascent  {e.g. 
crevasses,  step-cutting,  etc.)  are  avoided,  though  rocks  have 
dangers  as  well  as  fascinations,  peculiarly  their  own.  The 
amusing  point  is  that  rock  men  now  look  down  disdainfully 
on  the  few  snow  men  who  still  venture  to  hold  up  their  heads. 
With  them  it  is  not  a  question  of  preference,  but  of  exclusion. 
No  one,  they  urge,  can  be  considered  a  mountaineer,  unless  he 


II 


f. 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  247 

is  a  rock  climber,  pure  and  simple.  From  this  point  of  view, 
the  scaling  of  the  smallest  rock  tower  is  as  enjoyable  as  is  that 
of  the  highest  rock  needle — all  depends  on  the  difficulties 
encountered  en  route.  This  explains  why  of  recent  years  so 
much  attention  has  been  paid  to  the  Dolomites  in  the  Alps 
and  to  the  rock  pinnacles  around  the  English  Lakes.  Granting, 
for  the  sake  of  argument,  that  the  training  for  pure  rock 
climbing  can  be  as  well  obtained  in  either  region  as  in  the 
snowy  Alps,  the  undoubted  fact  remains  that  what  at  once 
distinguishes  the  Alps  from  these  ranges  is  the  fact  that  the 
Alps  are  permanently  snow-covered,  that  they  possess  glaciers, 
and  ice  slopes,  and  the  like.  Hence  nothing  can  possibly  take 
their  place,  and  the  mere  rock  climber  deprives  himself  of  at 
least  half  the  training  of  the  all-round  mountaineer.  Of  course, 
a  man  may  in  general  prefer  rock  to  snow.  That  one  can  under- 
stand, and  that  depends  on  his  personal  qualifications,  for  these 
vary  with  the  character  of  the  climb.  But  in  making  the  above 
remarks  we  have  been  rather  thinking  of  the  man  who  only 
climbs  rocks  and  scoffs  at  snow,  or,  if  compelled  for  his  sins 
to  ascend  a  snow  peak  or  to  cross  a  snow  pass,  vents  his  dis- 
satisfaction by  complaining  of  '  that  horrid  snow  grind ' ! 
Probably  the  younger  generation  of  mountaineers  are  better 
rock  climbers  than  were  their  predecessors,  but  it  is  as  cer- 
tain, in  the  opinion  of  the  present  writer,  that  they  are 
distinctly  inferior,  generally  speaking,  to  the  older  race  of 
mountaineers.  They  sought  a  route,  if  possible  the  best,  though 
that  is  rarely  discovered  on  the  occasion  of  a  first  ascent,  up  a 
peak,  while  the  newer  generation  looks  deliberately  for  the  most 
difficult  route,  and  has  no  rooted  objection  to  a  certain  amount 
of  inevitable  danger.  But  surely  there  is  room  for  both  types, 
though,  as  is  usually  the  case  with  '  wobblers,'  those  who 
practise  first  one,  then  the  other  form  of  climbing,  are  regarded 
with  contempt  both  by  the  snow  and  by  the  rock  men.  Just 
so  the  genuine  ski  man  cannot  stand  the  equally  genuine 
tobogganer,  while  both  jeer  at  the  poor  wretch  who  prefers 
his  own  feet  to  any  form  of  artificial  locomotion. 

Closely  connected  with  this  frantic  devotion  to  rock  climbing 


248     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

is  the  great  shadow  and  blot  on  present-day  mountaineering 
— guideless  dimbing  in  the  High  Alps  by  incompetent  persons. 
This,  in  the  opinion  of  the  present  writer,  who  knows  that  he 
does  not  stand  alone  in  holding  very  strong  views  on  this 
matter,  is  the  plague  spot  in  Alpine  matters  at  the  present 
time.  Notice  that  we  do  not  condemn  guideless  mountaineer- 
ing in  itself,  but  only  when  it  is  practised  in  the  High  Alps 
(that  is,  roughly,  above  the  snow-line,  or  in  the  case  of  difficult 
ascents,  without  regard  to  the  height  of  the  peak)  by  incompetent 
perso7is  (not  by  those,  always  a  select  number,  who,  with 
companions  of  the  same  stamp,  are  entitled  to  undertake 
first-class  expeditions).  It  is  quite  true,  and  sadly  true,  that 
first-rate  amateur  clim.bers  have  perished  in  the  Alps,  for 
there,  as  in  the  case  of  hunting,  yachting,  shooting,  dangers 
exist  which  cannot  be  avoided  if  the  circumstances  are  favour- 
able for  them,  while  a  mishap,  an  '  accident '  in  the  strict  sense 
of  the  term,  is  always  possible — even  the  best  athlete  may 
break  his  neck  by  falling  down  stairs,  or  slipping  on  a  pavement, 
or  be  run  over  by  a  railway  train. 

Now  guideless  climbing  by  competent  men  is  no  very  new 
thing.  We  have  mentioned  above  the  splendid  feats  of  Messrs 
Hudson  and  Kennedy's  party  on  Mont  Blanc  as  far  back  as 
1855,  while  in  1870  Mr.  Girdlestone  devoted  a  whole  book  to  the 
subject,  illustrating  it  by  the  thrilling  recital  of  his  own  exciting 
experiences  between  1864  and  1869.  Still  later,  the  first  guide- 
less ascent  of  the  Matterhorn,  which  took  place  in  1876  (the 
present  writer  was  at  Zermatt  that  day)  by  Messrs.  Cust,  Cawood, 
and  Colgrove,  was  a  wholly  justifiable  expedition.  The  three 
members  of  the  party  had  all  considerable  practical  acquaintance 
with  the  High  Alps  ;  they  took  every  precaution  as  to  choosing 
a  day  when  weather,  etc.,  were  favourable  ;  they  did  not  try  to 
make  a  '  record '  in  any  respect,  whether  as  to  time  or  anything 
else.  None  of  them  had  ever  been  up  the  peak  before,  so  that 
all  the  more  credit  is  due  to  the  success  that  crowned  their 
efforts.  In  1878  Mr.  Frederick  Gardiner,  and  the  brothers 
Charles  and  Lawrence  Pilkington,  decided  to  carry  matters 
one  step  further,  attacking  peaks  which  had  never  been  climbed 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  249 

previously,  and  as  to  which  therefore  no  practical  information 
could  be  obtained  from  printed  sources.  They  succeeded 
admirably  in  their  emprise.  Hence  in  1879  they  startled 
the  Alpine  world  by  mounting  the  Meije  (but  thrice  vanquished 
previously),  an  undoubtedly  first-class  rock  peak,  while  in  1881 
they  showed  that  they  were  many-sided  by  an  ascent  of  the 
Jungfrau  from  the  Wengern  Alp,  admittedly  one  of  the  severest 
and  most  trying  ice  climbs  in  the  Alps.  Like  the  party  of 
1876,  they  waited  till  all  was  favourable  for  their  enterprises, 
they  took  all  possible  precautions  when  on  the  way,  they  knew 
each  other  well  and  so  could  reckon  confidently  on  each 
other  in  case  of  an  emergency,  and  they  had  carefully 
studied  their  intended  route  beforehand  so  as  to  be  quite  clear 
on  the  subject. 

It  is  impossible,  of  course,  to  fix  the  precise  date  at  which 
guideless  climbing  began  to  be  abused.  But  no  one  can  doubt 
that  one  of  the  first  signs  of  the  change  in  men's  views  was  the 
tragic  death  of  Emil  Zsigmondy  on  the  Meije  in  1885.  A 
few  days  previously,  he  and  his  friends  had  successfully 
accomplished  the  traverse  of  the  ridge  between  the  Grand  Pic 
and  the  lower  Central  Summit.  Flushed  with  victory,  they 
attempted  to  force  a  new  and  still  more  difficult  route  up  the 
south  face,  and  it  was  on  this  attempt  that  the  misfortune 
occurred.  All  three  climbers  (two  only  took  part  in  both 
climbs,  the  third  man  being  different  on  each  occasion)  were 
first-class  men,  but  there  are  limits  even  to  human  skill  and 
human  daring,  and,  in  the  opinion  of  the  present  writer,  these 
were  overstepped  on  that  occasion. 

Without,  however,  entering  upon  the  vain  task  of  trying  to 
fix  precisely  the  year  when  the  bad  side  of  guideless  climbing 
became  prominent,  let  it  suffice  to  say  that  for  the  last  fifteen 
or  twenty  years  it  has  been  coming  more  and  more  into  the 
foreground.  Mountaineering  has  become  popular,  even 
fashionable,  after  its  temporary  eclipse.  The  vast  increase 
in  the  number  of  published  detailed  descriptions  of  climbs, 
special  guide-books,  large  scale  maps,  discussion  in  public 
prints  has  largely  destroyed  the  veil  of  mystery  that  had  long 


250     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

half  hidden  the  great  peaks.  It  is  thought  that  rock  peaks 
must  offer  safer  climbing  than  snow  peaks,  with  the  probability 
of  step-cutting,  finding  one's  way  through  an  ice-fall,  etc. 
The  expenses  of  travelling  have  been  greatly  reduced,  and 
that  allows  many  men  to  indulge  in  climbing  who  had  not 
previously  dreamt  of  this  comparative  luxury.  There  has  been  a 
distinct  decline  (far  more  marked  on  the  Continent  than  in  the 
case  of  English  climbers)  in  the  social  status  of  those  who  tried 
high  ascents,  and  this  led  to  a  different  kind  of  men  embarking 
upon  difficult  expeditions.  Without  much  previous  experience, 
trying  to  cut  down  expenses  as  far  as  possible,  never  having 
travelled  with  guides,  ignorant  of  the  etiquette  that  had  grown 
up  in  Club  huts,  which  they  could  use  gratis  or  for  a  small 
fee,  bound  to  make  their  climbs  on  certain  days,  as  their 
holiday  was  very  short,  they  are  inclined  to  run  risks  that 
would  have  deterred  the  older  generation ;  for  unless  the 
weather  was  extremely  bad,  it  is  absolutely  necessary  for 
them  to  complete  the  climb  in  time  to  catch  a  train  to  bring 
them  home  at  the  appointed  hour.  Add  to  all  these  drawbacks 
the  fact  that  many  of  the  newer  climbers  (particularly  in 
Switzerland  and  Austria)  are  occupied  all  the  week  in  seden- 
tary pursuits  (as  clerks,  students,  workmen,  etc.),  and  it  will 
be  admitted  that  an  entirely  new  phase  of  mountaineering  has 
been  opened.  Hence,  beyond  a  doubt,  the  frightful  increase 
in  the  number  of  accidents  in  the  High  Alps,  due  for  the 
most  part  to  sheer  carelessness  and  to  neglect  to  take  the  most 
obvious  precautions,  these  defects  being  in  their  turn  the  results 
of  the  relative  inexperience  and  ignorance  of  the  young  fellows 
who  at  07ice  flew  at  the  highest  game,  and  often  paid  the  penalty 
of  their  foolishness. 

Every  climber  ought  to  know,  that  on  a  high  ascent  much 
depends  on  the  condition  of  the  peak  that  very  day.  The 
Matterhorn  can  be  a  very  easy  ascent,  but  it  can  also  be  a  very 
terrible  undertaking.  Mont  Blanc  by  the  ordinary  route  from 
Chamonix  is  a  walk  under  favourable  circumstances,  but  at  times 
it  can  beat  the  Matterhorn  hollow  as  to  danger  and  difficulty.  The 
Wetterhorn  often  changes  from  day  to  day,  so  that  a  party  may 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  251 

scamper  up  it  one  day,  and,  next  day,  the  ascent  may  offer  very 
considerable  difficulties,  and  still  greater  dangers.  Hence  the 
idea  that  every  peak  can  be  classified  irrevocably  as  '  very  diffi- 
cult,' '  difficult,'  or  '  easy,'  is  utterly  absurd.  The  early  guideless 
climbers  learnt  this  truth  while  they  climbed  with  guides,  and, 
by  watching  their  professional  companions,  could  store  up  many 
a  useful  hint  (quite  apart  from  any  question  of  actual  path- 
finding)  that  was  to  be  of  service  to  them  later  on.  But  the 
newer  climbers,  having  never  travelled  with  guides,  lacked  this 
useful  knowledge.  Having  heard  that  a  certain  peak  was  easy, 
they  held  that  it  was  always  easy,  and  so  could  be  attacked 
safely.  No  or  little  consideration  was  paid  to  weather  conditions, 
ice  conditions,  snow  conditions,  rock  conditions,  or  even  to  the 
bodily  condition  of  the  climbers  the  day  of  their  ascent.  All 
those  who  have  climbed  for  a  time  know  how  one's  body  varies 
in  condition,  often  from  day  to  day,  and  the  extreme  advantage 
that  a  man  who  has  trained  himself  that  summer  has  over 
another,  perhaps  in  every  way  physically  stronger,  who  has 
come  straight  from  his  desk  or  his  office,  But  the  young 
fellows  we  are  thinking  of  have  often  only  the  Sunday  free, 
perhaps  also  a  few  hours  on  Saturday  afternoon,  but  must  be  at 
their  post  on  the  Monday  morning,  or  it  will  know  them  no  more. 
Hence  in  summer  one  now  regularly  reads  in  the  Monday 
or  Tuesday  paper  of  the  deaths  that  have  occurred  on  the 
mountains  (by  no  means  always  on  the  high  mountains)  on  the 
preceding  Sunday.  Yearly  the  death  toll  is  greater,  and  though, 
as  we  pointed  out  above,  there  must  always,  in  all  pastimes,  be 
pure  '  accidents '  which  can  be  classed  as  inevitable,  yet  it  must 
be  allowed  that  many  of  these  Sunday  accidents  might  very  well 
be  avoided,  with  a  little  more  care,  a  little  more  experience,  a 
little  less  rashness,  a  Uttle  more  thought  for  relatives,  friends, 
and  even  the  outside  world. 

It  is  but  a  step  from  being  told  that  one  is  'as  good  as  a 
guide '  to  the  conclusion,  why  then  take  guides  ?  And  here,  in 
the  opinion  of  the  present  writer,  the  Swiss  Alpine  Club  has, 
with  the  best  intentions,  committed  a  grave  mistake  (no  other 
Alpine  Club  seems  to  have  adopted  the  system).     Since  1900 


252     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

it  permits  amateurs  (being  members  of  the  club)  to  sit  for  the 
same  guides'  examinations  as  young  professionals,  and  grants 
to  them,  on  passing,  a  certificate  or  'Diploma,'  signed  by  the 
Central  Committee,  but  not  recognised  by  the  Cantonal  Govern- 
ment. Professionals  receive,  on  the  result  of  the  same  examina- 
tion, a  '  Patent '  or  '  Ucence '  from  their  Cantonal  Government. 
The  result  frequently  (of  course  by  no  m.eans  always)  is  that  the 
amateur,  holding  such  a  diploma,  is  not  unnaturally  tempted 
to  dispense  with  professional  assistance,  and  not  seldom  comes 
to  great  grief.  The  plan  tickles  the  innocent  vanity  of  a  few 
amateurs,  but  may  well  result  in  disaster,  for  it  is  the  fixed 
opinion  of  the  present  writer  that  it  is  impossible,  save  in  a  few 
most  exceptional  cases  (which  prove  the  rule),  that  an  amateur 
can  be  as  good  and  capable  all  round  as  a  professional  glacier 
guide — mark  the  words  'all  round,' for  in  certain  respects  the 
amateur  may  surpass  the  professional,  though  falling  below  him 
in  other  points,  so  that  we  must  strike  an  average  if  we  desire 
to  arrive  at  general  conclusions. 

Let  us  admit  to  the  full  the  very  real  advantages  that  guide- 
less  climbing  does  possess.  It  without  doubt  develops  the 
sense  of  self-reliance,  of  independence,  of  true  saving  of  money, 
of  pure  enjoyment  with  a  few  congenial  companions,  of  pleasure 
in  tracking  out  one's  own  way,  of  feeling  perfectly  free  to  go 
where  one  will.  Yet,  on  the  other  side,  we  have  the  indisputable 
fact  that  amateurs  cannot  possibly  have  had  the  same  continuous 
bodily  training  as  professionals,  and  this  not  merely  because  the 
amateur  spends  a  few  weeks  at  the  most  in  the  mountains  where 
the  professional  spends  his  entire  life.  Quite  apart  from  any 
question  of  path-finding  in  fine  weather  (and  the  amateur  will 
almost  always  be  better  able  to  read  a  map  or  use  a  compass  than 
a  professional  guide),  how  can  an  amateur  decide  in  the  twinkling 
of  an  eye  as  to  the  state  of  the  snow,  how  can  he  possess  the 
inherited  and  accumulated  weather  wisdom  of  a  guide,  how  can 
he  hope  to  vie  with  a  professional  in  such  tiring  work  as  step- 
cutting,  carrying  weights,  and  so  on  ?  A  guide,  too,  used  to  such 
surprises  in  his  ordinary  life,  will  be  less  demoralised  than  an 
amateur  if  a  sudden  mist  comes  on,  or  if  the  party  be  overtaken 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  253 

by  bad  weather,  or  loses  its  way  on  trackless  snow-fields  or  in 
the  mazes  of  a  crevassed  glacier.  Amateurs,  of  course,  vary,  just 
as  much  as  do  guides.  But  in  these  pages  we  are  thinking  of 
really  capable  amateurs  and  good  glacier  guides.  It  is  not 
hard  to  find  an  amateur  who  under  ordinary  circumstances  can 
find  his  way  up  a  well-known  peak  in  fine  weather  nearly  if  not 
quite  as  well  as  a  guide.  But  the  comparison  is  neither  fair 
nor  complete  unless  we  take  into  account  bad  weather,  and 
labour  that  makes  a  heavy  demand  on  bodily  strength,  and  such 
like.  In  that  case  the  superiority  of  the  professional  is  very  well 
marked.  One  of  the  earUest  and  most  successful  of  guideless 
English  climbers  has  often  assured  the  present  writer  that  two 
of  the  greatest  disadvantages  of  amateurs  are,  first,  the  tendency 
to  relax  attention  when  the  chief  difficulties  are  over  {e.g.  cross- 
ing an  apparently  uncrevassed  glacier)  and  the  excitement  is 
past ;  and,  secondly,  the  great  tax  on  the  physical  energies  of  an 
amateur  of  having  to  carry  provisions,  however  they  may  be 
reduced  in  bulk,  whereas  the  guide  is  used  to  weight-carrying 
from  his  boyhood.  Our  friend,  too,  who  has  travelled  with  some 
of  the  best  guides  in  the  Alps,  allowed  to  us  unreservedly  that, 
though  he  and  his  friends  could  carry  through  a  difficult  climb 
quite  as  well  as  many  guides,  they  could  not  do  so  with  the 
professional  finish  and  neatness  that  comes  from  a  lifelong 
training.  It  is  simply  the  old  question  of  the  superiority,  as  a 
general  rule,  of  professionals  or  specialists  in  any  department 
over  amateurs.  Every  general  statement,  of  course,  has  its 
exceptions,  but  these  are  so  few  in  number  that  they  impress 
one  only  by  their  rarity  and  scarcity. 

There  are  several  other  points  which  are  often  overlooked 
when  the  merits  of  guideless  mountaineering  are  discussed.  As 
is  well  known,  the  leading  guide  of  a  party  is  responsible  before 
the  law  for  the  safety  of  his  party,  and  may  be  punished  severely 
if  he  has  neglected  his  duties.  But  guideless  climbers  are 
under  no  legal  responsibility  towards  one  another.  Again,  it  is 
frequently  urged  that  the  tariff  of  fees  for  guides  is  absurdly 
high.  Now  it  is  true  that  the  fees  at  first  sight  do  seem  to  be 
high.     But  it  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  they  refer  to  travellers 


254     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

in  general,  not  only  to  skilled  climbers.  Hence  the  amount 
that  would  be  adequate  in  the  case  of  a  traveller  who  has  to 
be  helped  very  much  would  be  absurd  in  the  case  of  a  more 
practised  climber,  for  the  former  not  merely  gives  much  more 
work  to  his  guide,  but  is  also  a  source  of  greater  danger  by 
reason  of  his  inexperience.  Besides,  every  one  knows  that,  as  a 
rule,  a  good  climber  can  make  a  special  arrangement  with  a 
guide.  In  all  his  thirty-four  years  of  climbing  the  present 
writer  has  very  rarely  paid  the  full  tariff  price  for  any  high 
expedition.  Of  course,  if  a  guide  is  taken  only  for  one  or  two 
climbs,  the  fees  will  not  be  reduced  proportionately  as  if  he  were 
engaged  for  several  weeks.  After  all,  guiding  is  a  profession, 
or,  more  strictly,  a  '  by-profession,'  exercised  only  in  summer 
(rarely  in  winter  or  at  other  times),  and  is  the  guide's  means  of 
livelihood  by  which  he  mainly  supports  his  family,  unless  he 
has  some  other  trade  at  which  to  work  when  not  acting  as  guide. 
He  cannot,  therefore,  be  expected  to  face  unnecessary  dangers 
and  perils,  at  the  bidding  of  his  employer  for  the  time,  who,  on 
his  side,  may  not  be  cumbered  by  family  cares  and  expenses.  It 
therefore  seems  very  hard  on  a  guide  to  accuse  him  of  cowardice 
or  want  of  enterprise,  for,  after  all  said  and  done,  mountaineering 
is  a  pastime,  not  a  gamble  for  one's  life,  and  the  limits  of  pru- 
dence are  well  known,  though  not  always  observed. 

A  guideless  climber,  too,  does  not  always  remember  that  the 
more  guideless  mountaineering  spreads,  the  worse  it  is  for  the 
professional  guides,  who  are  a  picked  lot  of  men,  and  exercise  t 
an  honourable  calling.  By  all  means  let  the  few  really  com-  ; 
petent  amateurs,  who  can  never  be  a  very  numerous  body, 
amuse  themselves  by  emulating  their  professional  rivals.  But 
let  them  beware  of  encouraging  by  their  words  or  by  their 
writings  incompetent  men  to  follow  their  example.  TJiere  is  the 
great  drawback  of  guideless  mountaineering  from  the  point  of 
view  of  the  general  public.  Let  the  guideless  climbers  also  be 
more  modest  than  is  sometimes  the  case,  and  above  all  let  them 
refrain  from  throwing  mud  or  casting  contempt  on  professional 
guides,  whose  bread  they  are  taking  out  of  their  mouths,  but 
whom  they  expect  to  call  in  as  rescuers  should  any  mishap  occur 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  255 

to  a  guideless  party.  Quite  recently  an  amateur  climber  per- 
mitted himself  to  direct  a  most  fiery  attack  against  Swiss  guides 
in  general.  But  in  his  paper  he  admitted  that  he  had  not  made  a 
dozen  climbs  with  guides,  and  then  in  most  cases  only  with  the 
very  best  men,  so  that,  as  his  critics  at  once  pointed  out,  these 
facts  at  once  put  him  out  of  court  when  he  sat  in  judgment 
on  average  glacier  guides.  Another  writer  boasts  loudly  that 
he  and  his  friends,  without  guides,  completed  the  exploration  of 
a  certain  district  in  the  Alps.  But  when,  on  inquiry,  it  turns  out 
that  this  vaunt  really  refers  to  the  scaling  of  a  number  of  not 
very  high  and  rather  unimportant  rocky  points,  which  had  been 
purposely  disdained  by  previous  explorers  as  beneath  their 
attention,  one  gets  some  idea  of  the  childlike  fashion  in  which 
some  guideless  climbers  blow  their  own  trumpet. 

Few  English  readers  save  those  who  devote  special  attention 
to  Alpine  matters  have  any  idea  to  what  extremes  the  pursuit 
of  guideless  mountaineering  has  actually  been  carried  in  the 
Alps.  A  few  examples,  all  dating  from  the  last  few  years,  may 
help  to  open  their  eyes.  In  1903  a  party  of  eight  young  men 
set  out  from  Geneva  (bearing  with  them,  it  is  said,  a  ham 
and  several  loaves  of  bread  as  provisions)  to  ascend  Mont 
Blanc.  They  seem  to  have  been  insufficiently  equipped  and 
to  have  had  little  or  no  experience  in  climbing.  By  a  sort  of 
miracle  seven  of  them,  though  after  very  many  hours'  toil,  really 
did  attain  the  hut  on  the  Aiguille  du  GoAter.  But  a  great  storm 
came  upon  them,  they  were  struck  by  lightning,  and  were  only 
rescued,  alive  though  wounded,  several  having  remained  sense- 
less for  hours,  by  the  heroic  efforts  of  a  party  of  guides.  The 
storm  was  really  a  mere  unfortunate  detail,  for  the  party  were 
in  nowise  fitted  for  the  climb,  even  in  the  finest  weather.  In 
1905  two  young  Swiss  tradesmen  (one  holding  the  '  Diploma'  of 
the  Swiss  Alpine  Club,  as  amateur  guide,  having  gained  it,  so 
it  is  stated,  with  great  distinction)  attempted  the  Jungfrau  from 
the  Wengern  Alp.  They  both  perished  on  the  way,  how  exactly 
is  not  known,  as  only  one  body  was  found.  A  few  days  before 
the  same  really  difficult  climb  had  been  tried  by  two  young 
apprentices  (one  a  blacksmith,  the  other  a  joiner)  resident  in 


256     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Grindelwald.  Both  perished,  another  proof,  if  one  was  wanted, 
that  mere  bodily  strength  and  vigour  are  not  sufficient  equip- 
ment for  a  high  mountain  ascent.  In  the  autumn  of  1906  it 
was  discovered  that  nothing  had  been  heard  of  two  young 
Germans,  who,  alone,  had  started  for  the  ascent  of  the  Jung- 
frau  from  the  Roththal  two  months  before.  A  strong  search- 
party  from  Lauterbrunnen  was  organised,  which  could  discover 
no  trace  of  the  two  travellers,  but  did  discover,  very  high 
up,  the  body  of  a  man,  who  turned  out  to  be  a  baker  from 
Beckenried,  who  had  attempted  this  expedition  alone,  armed 
with  an  alpenstock.  A  short  time  ago  a  Swiss  friend  told  the 
present  writer  that,  while  walking  about  the  Lower  Eismeer  at 
Grindelwald,  he  spied  two  men  working  up  the  ice-fall  (where 
no  one  goes)  that  separates  it  from  the  Upper  Eismeer.  After 
much  shouting  the  two  men  were  induced  to  return.  They 
proved  to  be  two  wandering  apprentices,  who  were  armed  only 
with  an  umbrella  and  a  walking-stick  respectively,  and  were 
trying  to  make  their  way  cheaply  from  Bern  to  the  Vallais. 
They  stated  that  their  intention  was  to  climb  the  Jungfrau 
(they  were  proceeding  in  quite  a  wrong  direction),  and,  arrived 
there,  to  take  the  railway  (of  course  not  yet  constructed)  down 
on  the  other  side.  This  case,  like  those  of  the  baker  and  the 
two  Grindelwald  apprentices,  are  cited  here  to  show  how  much 
harm  guideless  mountaineering  can  do  by  inducing  unfit  persons 
to  undertake  climbs  far  beyond  their  capacity.  One  cannot,  of 
course,  fix  the  blame  on  any  one  guideless  party,  but  the  way 
in  which  some  of  the  members  of  such  parties  brag  about  the 
absurd  easiness  of  this  and  that  climb  comes  to  the  ears  of 
other  ambitious  young  men,  and  results  in  disastrous  conse- 
quences. 

Thus,  as  we  started  by  remarking,  guideless  mountaineering 
in  the  High  Alps  by  incompetent perso7is  is  the  black  cloud  on 
the  good  cause  at  present.  Unless  this  new  current  is  forcibly 
checked  and  diverted,  much  lasting  harm  will  be  done,  and 
mountaineering  will  be  looked  upon  askance  as  was  the  case 
for  years  after  1865.  It  is  the  duty  of  competent  guideless 
climbers   (and  such    are    to  be   found)  to   warn   weaker    men 


MODERN  MOUNTAINEERING  257 

that  while  such  a  climb  has  great  charms,  it  should  not  be 
undertaken  unless  under  favourable  circumstances  and  by  more 
or  less  trained  mountaineers.  Otherwise  the  ambitious  but 
inexperienced  novices  will  have  to  pay  the  natural  penalty. 

Forty  odd  years  ago  Leslie  Stephen  (one  of  the  crack  climbers 
of  his  day)  speaking  officially  as  President  of  the  Alpine  Club, 
and  at  a  date  previous  to  the  Matterhorn  accident  of  1865,  made 
the  following  most  wise  remarks,  the  flavour  of  which  has  only 
become  more  mellow  with  time,  so  that  we  commend  them 
heartily  to  the  best  attention  of  our  readers  : — 

'  In  my  opinion,  if  ever  it  becomes  fashionable  for  English 
travellers  to  attack  the  High  Alps  without  guides  and  without  due 
experience,  the  era  of  bad  accidents  will  begin.  .  .  .  According 
to  my  experience,  no  traveller  that  I  have  ever  seen  would  be 
worthy  to  be  ranked  as  even  a  second-rate  guide.  The  difference 
between  professionals  and  amateurs,  generally  pretty  well  marked, 
is  wider  in  this  than  in  almost  any  sport,  and  for  the  simple 
reason  that  there  is  a  greater  difference  in  experience.  The 
guide  has  been  practising  during  his  whole  life,  the  amateur 
during  a  few  vacations,  of  which  the  first  was  probably  after  the 
time  at  which  athletic  sports  are  best  learnt.' 


CHAPTER  XI 

ALPINE    GUIDES 

IN  the  early  days  of  January,  1129,  a  host  of  pilgrims  was 
waiting  anxiously  at  the  S.  foot  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard, 
till  the  inclement  weather  allowed  them  to  cross  the  pass  in 
the  direction  of  their  homes  :  it  is  the  abbat  of  St.  Trond, 
near  Liege,  who  tells  us  the  sad  tale.  Avalanches  poured 
down  from  above,  the  snow  blew  into  great  drifts,  some  pilgrims 
who  ventured  to  start  were  suffocated.  Their  companions, 
crowded  together  in  the  small  village  of  St.  Rhemy,  were  in  deep 
despair.  Suddenly  some  local  men  offered  to  go  on  ahead 
in  order  to  beat  down  a  path,  so  that  the  pilgrims  with  their 
horses  might  follow  in  their  steps.  This  offer,  and  the  price 
demanded,  were  gladly  accepted,  and  the  valiant  men  set  forth, 
though  a  fresh  avalanche  soon  overwhelmed  them,  killing  some, 
maiming  others,  and  so  putting  an  end  to  the  expedition. 
For  us  in  this  chapter  the  interest  lies  in  the  description  of 
these  men,  the  first  Alpine  guides  of  whom  a  record  has  come 
down  to  us.  We  are  told  that  they  wrapped  their  heads  in 
felt  as  a  protection  against  the  cold,  drew  coarse  mittens  over 
their  hands,  pulled  on  their  high  boots,  of  which  the  soles  were 
furnished  with  sharp  iron  spikes  to  prevent  them  from  slipping 
on  the  ice,  and  carried  in  their  hands  long  poles  wherewith  to 
sound  for  the  path  through  the  deep  snow.  The  name  given 
to  them  is  '  marones,'  a  word  of  uncertain  derivation,  that  was 
specially  applied  to  the  guides  on  the  Great  St.  Bernard  (there 
it  still  survives  in  the  form  of  '  maronnier,'  the  chief  of  the 
men  who  sally  forth  to  rescue  passing  travellers  in  winter)  and 
the  Mont  Cenis,  though  it  is  occasionally  used  with  regard  to 

258 


ALPINE  GUIDES  259 

other  Alpine  passes.  They  were  equipped  with  all  sorts  of 
articles  such  as  are  still  more  or  less  used  in  making  high  climbs, 
though  of  course  in  this  passage  there  is  no  reference  to  such 
adventurous  feats.  '  Crampons  '  or  '  Steigeisen,'  a  sort  of  second 
sole  of  iron  or  steel,  furnished  with  sharp  spikes  (in  1129  the 
iron  spikes  appear  to  have  been  fastened  direct  to  the  boot 
soles)  and  placed  under  the  leather  sole  of  the  boot,  being 
attached  to  the  foot  by  straps,  are  often  mentioned  by  later 
writers,  while  both  the  lord  of  Villamont  in  1588  on  the 
Rochemelon,  and  Arnod  on  the  Col  du  Geant  in  1689,  speak 
also  of  iron  claws  to  be  attached  to  the  hands.  Arnod,  too, 
had  '  hachons '  with  him,  a  sort  of  elementary  ice-axe,  no  doubt, 
while  spectacles  to  protect  the  eyes  from  the  glare  of  the  sun 
on  snow  are  mentioned  by  Jacques  Le  Saige  in  15 18,  and  by 
Josias  Simler  in  1574.  The  last-named  writer  also  speaks  of 
the  use  of  the  rope  and  of  raquettes  or  snow-shoes,  as  well  as 
of  the  benefits  of  thick  paper  or  parchment  as  a  means  of  pro- 
tecting the  body  against  piercing  cold.  We  have  seen  above 
that  in  1492  Antoine  de  Ville  employed  ladders  wherewith  to 
scale  the  Mont  Aiguille. 

But  of  course  in  early  days  all  these  implements  were  only 
used  in  the  case  of  crossing  in  winter  passes  which  in  summer 
are  quite  easy,  and  accessible  to  mules  or  horses.  On  the 
Mont  Cenis  the  '  marons '  were  particularly  skilled  in  bringing 
down  travellers  from  the  pass  to  Lanslebourg  on  a  sort  of 
toboggan  or  wooden  sledge,  this  fashion  of  luging  being  called 
'  glisser  a  la  ramasse.'  They  were  capable,  however,  of  better 
things,  as  a  Breton  nobleman,  the  Seigneur  de  Villamont,  tells  us 
in  his  amusing  account  of  his  ascent  of  the  Rochemelon  in  1588. 
His  two  '  marons '  carried  the  provisions,  they  took  care  of  their 
employer  when  he  became  fatigued  and  half  frozen  with  cold, 
gave  him  wine  to  drink,  tied  crampons  and  iron  claws  to  his  feet 
and  hands,  and  apparently  pushed  him  up  by  placing  their 
arms  under  his  shoulders.  Thanks  mainly  to  them  he  reached 
the  summit  of  his  peak,  and  rejoiced  much  in  the  wonderful 
things  he  saw  thence,  so  that  'he  forgot  all  his  past  labours 
and  his  soul  was  filled  with  an  incredible  joy.'     Later,  on  his 


26o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

return  to  France,  Villamont  tobogganed  down  the  other  slope 
of  the  Mont  Cenis,  perhaps  looked  after  by  the  same  two  men 
or  'marons.' 

These  two  men  of  1588  are  the  first  real  Alpine  guides 
who  took,  as  far  as  we  know,  a  traveller  up  a  high  peak,  for 
the  companions  of  Antoine  de  Ville  on  the  Mont  Aiguille  in 
1492  were  rather  labourers  charged  to  hew  a  way  to  the  top 
and  to  set  up  ladders,  than  guides  properly  so  called. 

Many  years  later  we  find  that  the  men  who  acted  as  guides 
on  high  ascents  were  generally  chamois  hunters,  who  feared 
the  upper  regions  less  than  other  men.  This  was  the  case  in 
the  ascents  of  the  Scesaplana  in  1742,  of  the  Buet  in  1770,  and 
of  the  Mont  Velan  in  1779,  and  in  many  later  cases.  On 
other  occasions  we  hear  only  of  bold  peasants,  no  hint 
being  given  as  to  their  profession,  or  again  of  shepherds 
or  of  smugglers,  who  were  very  useful  when  the  peak  rose  on 
or  near  a  frontier.  These  were  the  classes  from  which  the 
early  mountain  guides  were  taken.  We  should  add  crystal- 
hunters  in  the  case  of  the  Chamonix  men,  and  also  the  men 
employed  by  Government  map  surveyors,  who  were  naturally 
chosen  for  their  local  knowledge,  and  could  not  fail  to  become 
the  guides  of  the  future. 

Of  course  the  earliest  professional  guides  are  found  at 
Chamonix,  for  their  powers  found  an  opportunity  for  display 
in  the  course  of  the  attempts  on  and  early  ascents  of  Mont 
Blanc.  So  we  find  in  the  first  lists  of  Chamonix  guides, 
published  before  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century,  the  still 
familiar  names  of  Balmat,  Cachat,  Couttet,  Tournier,  Charlet, 
Devouassoud,  and  so  on.  The  Chamonix  guides,  too,  were 
the  first  to  be  organised  into  a  special  association,  in  1821 
or  1823  (the  dates  given  vary).  In  18 13  one  of  M.  Maynard's 
guides  on  the  occasion  of  the  first  ascent  of  the  Zermatt 
Breithorn  was  a  Couttet,  and  in  1830  Lord  Minto,  on  the  same 
climb,  had  no  fewer  than  nine  Chamonix  guides  with  him.  The 
Chamonix  men  long  kept  the  pre-eminence  they  had  won  so 
early,  the  latest  to  wander  far  from  their  native  mountains, 
as  well  as    among  them,   being  Auguste   Balmat  (1808-1862), 


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ALPINE  GUIDES  261 

the  guide  and  friend  of  Forbes  and  Mr.  Wills  ;  the  brothers 
Jean  Baptiste  Croz  (1828-1905)  and  Michel  Croz  (1830- 
1865),  the  latter  a  victim  of  the  great  Matterhorn  accident; 
and  Frangois  Devouassoud  (1831-1905),  the  life-long  guide 
of  Mr.  Douglas  Freshfield,  and  the  charming  companion  of  the 
present  writer  in  1867. 

The  guides  on  the  early  ascents  of  the  Gross  Glockner  were 
carpenters  by  trade,  because  they  had  to  set  up  a  cross  on  the  top. 
The  Meyers  on  the  Jungfrau  and  Finsteraarhorn  in  18 11- 12  had 
two  Vallais  chamois  hunters,  Joseph  Bortis  and  Alois  Volker  (the 
first  known  Vallais  guides),  as  well  as  a  Guttannen  man,  Arnold 
Abbiihl,  who  later  made  himself  a  considerable  name,  and  had 
been  picked  up  as  the  party  passed  his  native  village.  In  181 2 
the  fourth  man,  Kaspar  Huber,  was  in  all  probability  a  servant 
at  the  Grimsel  Hospice,  as  Abbiihl  certainly  was  in  1828,  when 
he  accompanied  Hugi.  The  Hospice  later  became  quite  a  nest 
of  good  glacier  guides,  for  the  landlord  was  obliged  to  keep 
many  servants  there  (mostly,  of  course,  from  Meiringen,  far 
down  the  same  valley  of  Hasle),  and  naturally  they  would 
accompany  to  the  glaciers  any  travellers  who  desired  to  visit 
them.  This  Hasle  school  was  particularly  strong  in  the  years 
1840  to  1845.  These  men  then  came  to  the  front  as  the  guides 
of  Desor  and  his  companions  in  the  ranges  round  their  head- 
quarters on  the  Unteraar  glacier.  The  boldest  of  them  all  was 
Melchior  Bannholzer,  who  with  J.  Jaun  (also  a  Meiringen  man) 
vanquished  (1844)  for  the  first  time  both  the  Hasle  Jungfrau  and 
the  Rosenhorn  peaks  of  the  Wetterhorner.  Jakob  Leuthold 
(who  died  quite  young  in  1843),  Johann  Wahren,  and  several 
Abplanalps  were  also  good  Hasle  guides  of  the  time,  while  the 
still  surviving  Melchior  Anderegg  (b.  1828),  one  of  the  most 
famous  of  all  guides,  started  life  (in  1855)  as  a  servant  at  the 
Grimsel.  Indeed,  it  is  quite  singular  to  notice  how  many  great 
peaks  of  the  Bernese  Oberland  were  first  conquered  by  Hasle 
and  Vallais  men. 

Yet  there  were  early  guides  at  Grindelwald  and  at  Lauter- 
brunnen.  The  first  Grindelwald  guides  we  hear  of  are  Peter 
Baumann  (1800-1853)  and  Ulrich  Wittwer,  who  took  a  German 


262     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

traveller  in  1826  over  what  seems  to  be  the  Finsteraarjoch. 
Baumann  was  apparently  a  leader  of  men,  for  it  was  he  who 
headed  the  six  Grindelwald  peasants  (including  Ulrich  Wittwer, 
Hildebrand  Burgener,  Christian  Baumann,  Peter  Moser,  and 
Peter  Roth)  who  climbed  the  Jungfrau  from  Grindelwald  in 
1828.  Most  of  these  men  later  became  professional  guides. 
In  the  next  generation  at  Grindelwald  was  Christian  Bleuer, 
who,  with  Peter  Baumann  and  Hildebrand  Burgener,  is 
mentioned  in  Murray  from  1842  to  1865.  He  was  with 
Mr.  Blackwell  in  1850-4,  and  did  a  certain  amount  of  climbing 
in  the  early  days.  Later  he  seems  to  have  organised  parties, 
acting  as  director,  but  having  younger  men  to  do  the  work 
under  him.  Two  of  these  under-studies  became  far  more 
famous  than  himself — Peter  Bohren  (1822-1882),  surnamed 
the  'Gletscherwolf'),  and  Christian  Aimer  (1826-1898),  the 
best  guide  who  ever  lived,  who  climbed  from  before  185 1  till 
1897,  never  had  but  two  accidents  in  his  life,  could  boast 
the  most  brilliant  conceivable  list  of  new  and  difficult  ascents, 
and  yet  died  peacefully  in  his  bed,  surrounded  by  his  family. 
The  present  writer  counts  it  a  great  privilege  to  have  been 
able  to  travel  with  Aimer  for  seventeen  summers  and  three 
winters,  and  to  be  in  the  closest  relations  of  friendship 
with  his  son  and  namesake,  in  whose  house  these  lines  are 
written. 

The  Lauterbrunnen  men  come  before  the  world  as  glacier 
guides  first  in  that  grand  year  1828,  in  connection  with  Hugi, 
and  Messrs.  Brown  and  Slade's  attempts  on  the  Jungfrau  from 
the  Roththal :  the  familiar  names  of  Lauener,  Bischofif,  and 
Gertsch  occur  then  already.  Some  of  the  great  Grindelwald 
men  were  summoned  over  by  Hugi  to  help  the  local  climbers. 
Most  famous  of  all  Lauterbrunnen  guides  was  Ulrich  Lauener 
(1821-1900),  who  was  the  leader  on  the  first  ascent  (1855)  of 
Monte  Rosa,  though  it  was  so  far  away  from  his  native  valley. 
The  Oberland  guides  were  first  organised  in  1856,  and  so  at  a 
much  later  date  than  their  Chamonix  rivals. 

Guides  elsewhere  developed  on  the  whole  later,  though 
J.  Brantschen,  of  Zermatt,  crossed  the  Schwarzberg  Weissthor 


ALPINE  GUIDES  263 

about  1825,  and  another  Zermatt  man,  A.  Damatter,  was  a  senior 
guide  in  1845,  when  Mr.  John  Ball  consulted  him. 

The  Pontresina  men  were  organised  in  1861,  and  at  later 
dates  the  men  of  other  regions  who  desired  to  become  profes- 
sional guides  followed  suit.  But  in  the  remoter  and  less  visited 
Alpine  districts  guides  in  the  proper  sense  did  not  exist  till  quite 
recently.  As  lately  as  1876  the  present  writer  engaged  the  best 
chamois  hunter  at  St.  Christophe,  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  as  his 
local  guide ;  but,  though  he  had  already  done  one  or  two  climbs 
with  travellers,  it  was  not  till  after  his  conquest  of  the  Meije  in 
1877  that  Pierre  Gaspard  developed  into  a  professional  guide. 

We  have  used  the  term  '  professional  guide '  more  than  once 
above.  It  should  always  be  borne  in  mind  that  it  is  meant  to 
distinguish  those  who  guide  for  their  livelihood  from  amateur 
guides.  Of  course,  guiding  is  not  and  cannot  be  a  regular 
profession,  for  as  a  rule  it  is  exercised  only  in  summer,  though 
of  recent  years  the  time  for  high  climbs  has  been  extended, 
while  Alpine  guides  have  been  engaged  to  explore  extra- 
European  ranges.  In  the  Alps,  therefore,  guiding  is  rather 
a  '  by-profession '  than  a  regular  profession.  No  guide,  practi- 
cally speaking,  is  a  guide  and  nothing  else.  That  is  the  way 
he  spends  part  of  his  time,  and  earns  most  money.  But  save 
in  the  rarest  cases,  guiding  occupies  him  during  only  two  or  three 
months  of  the  year.  Hence  for  the  other  nine  months  the 
guides  must  do  something,  for  it  is  a  totally  erroneous  belief 
that,  save  in  summer,  guides  are  entirely  idle.  It  would  be 
truer  to  say  that  summer  is  their  festival  time,  when  they  are 
better  fed,  better  lodged,  better  clothed  than  at  other  times 
of  the  year,  while,  as  against  the  undoubted  dangers  of  their 
calling,  there  are  to  be  set  certain  cash  advantages.  All  Alpine 
guides  are  peasant  proprietors  in  the  first  place.  Hence  during 
the  nine  months  or  so  when  they  are  not  guiding,  they  are 
occupied  with  cultivating  their  land,  taking  care  of  their  cattle, 
felling  wood  for  fuel,  etc.  In  early  summer  the  cows  go  up  to 
the  high  pastures,  so  that  their  owners  are  free,  while  hay  is  largely 
made  after  the  summer-climbing  season  is  over.  Many  guides, 
too,  follow  regular  trades — some  are  carpenters,  or  blacksmiths, 


264     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

or  butchers,  or  keep  small  shops,  or  hire  themselves  out,  in  the 
case  of  the  poorer  men,  as  day-labourers,  haymakers,  etc.     Others 
occupy  official  posts  in  their  native  valleys — so  at  Grindelwald 
both  the  President  of  the  Commune  and  its  treasurer  are  actually 
glacier  guides.     Thus  it  is  not  in  accordance  with  facts  to  think 
of  the  guides  as  forming  a  distinct  class,  sharply  cut  off  from 
other  men  of  the  valley,  and  exclusively  devoted  to  one  calling. 
Guiding  is  simply  the  summer  occupation  of  a  certain  number 
of  picked  men  in  each  Alpine  valley.     As  cash  circulates  little 
among  Alpine  peasants,  save  in  the  case  of  those  who  have  to  do 
with  foreign  visitors,  the  guides  are  generally  among  the  well-to-do 
men  in  their  respective  districts.     But  like  their  betters,  they 
prefer  not  to  be  thought  too  well-to-do,  in  view  of  the  taxes 
that  may  be  imposed  upon  them.     Some  years  ago,  in  a  certain 
Alpine  valley  that  shall  be  nameless,  the  local  authorities  were 
at  their  wits'  end  to  raise  some  more  money  for  public  purposes. 
A  shrewd  member  of  the  ruling  body  conceived  the  ingenious 
idea  of  levying  an  extra  income-tax  on  the  guides  of  the  region. 
But  as  the  guides  in  that  valley  are  numerous,  and  so  possess 
considerable  voting  power,  it  was  decided  to  levy  this  new  tax 
on  certain  guides  only,  selected  because  it  was  supposed  that 
they  earned  more  than  their  fellows.     Twelve  men  were  picked 
out,  and  a  demand  note  was  served  on  each  to  the  effect  that 
he  must  declare  what  he  expected  to  earn  during  the  coming 
summer,  and  would  be  taxed  on  the  amount  he  stated.     The 
twelve  held  a  meeting  at  once — it  lasted  a  whole  night — protest- 
ing against  this  unequal  treatment,  and  pointing  out  (what  was 
obvious)  that  it  was  impossible  to  estimate  what  their  earnings 
might  be  for  the  next  summer,  as  they  could  not  possibly  tell  be- 
forehand what  the  weather  conditions  might  be  like.     They  finally 
decided  to  return  the  demand  notes  not  filled  up,  without  any 
statement  or  estimate  of  their  possible  professional  income.     But 
this  ingenious  device  of  getting  round  such  an  obnoxious  measure 
was  baflfled  by  the  still  more  crafty  communal  authorities.    They 
resolved  to  tax  each  of  the  twelve  on  an  estimated  guide's  income 
of  looo  frcs.     Every  man  of  the  twelve  paid  without  demur  the 
annual  tax  of  eight  frcs.,  for,  as  one  of  them  explained  to  the 


ALPINE  GUIDES  265 

present  writer,  'the  authorities  might  very  well  tax  us  on  a 
higher  amount  (and  of  course  our  earnings  are  much  more 
than  1000  frcs.  a  year),  so  we  think  it  better  to  pay  and  have 
done  with  it,  rather  than  run  the  risk  of  being  assessed  at  a 
higher  sum.'  Since  then  peace  has  reigned  in  the  valley,  and 
both  sides  are  quite  satisfied  with  the  result. 

Another   misapprehension  as  to  guides  should  be  carefully 
guarded  against.    Enthusiastic  writers,  who  sometimes  know  less 
than  they  imagine,  are  inclined  to  regard  as  future  guides  all 
the  boys  they  see  playing  about  an  Alpine  village.     As  a  matter 
of  fact,  perhaps  one  in  ten  of  any  such  boys  becomes  a  guide,  at 
any  rate  a  glacier  guide.     That  class  does  not  include,  far  from 
it,  all  the  able-bodied  young  men  of  a  given  valley,  but  merely 
a  small  proportion  of  them.     The  exact  proportion  depends  on 
many  factors,  but  is  never  very  large,  for  a  glacier  guide  (and  in 
these  pages  we  deal  only  with  such)  must  possess  certain  quali- 
ties that  are  by  no  means  found  in  the  case  of  all  his  comrades, 
guides  or  non-guides.    An  instance,  based  on  accurate  figures  will 
show  what  the  real  facts  are.     At  the  end  of  1906,  in  the  valley 
of  Grindehvald,  there  were  about  eighty-three   licensed  guides 
(glacierguides  or  ordinary  guides)  out  of  a  male  population  of  about 
596  over  20  years  of  age,  below  which  no  man  can  be  admitted 
as  a  guide.     Now  notice  that  these  83  men  were  by  no  means 
all  glacier  guides — shall  we  say  that  only  perhaps  30  or  40  of 
them  had  ever  ascended  the  Wetterhorn  or  crossed  the  Strahl- 
egg? — while  some  had  practically  retired  through  age,  or  in- 
firmity, though  unwilling  to  acknowledge  the  fact.    Of  these  596 
men  about  330  were  over  the  age  of  50,  while  109  were  between 
20  and  32,  88  between  32  and  44,  and  69  between  44  and  50 — 
in  all,  266  below  50  to  330  over  50.     Naturally  most  guides  are 
below  50,  though  there  are  exceptions  which  will  occur  to  any 
one's  mind. 

Let  us  assume  then  as  proved  that  only  a  comparatively  small 
number  of  the  young  men  in  any  Alpine  valley  do  become  glacier 
guides  (of  course  the  case  is  different  as  to  the  early  guides,  who 
became  such  because  they  were  chamois  hunters,  and  acted  as 
guides  before  they  received  a  licence).     We  are  thus  naturally 


266     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

led  to  the  question  what  is  it  that  decides  a  young  fellow  to 
become  a  mountain  guide  rather  than  a  tradesman,  an  artisan, 
a  hotel  servant,  a  waiter,  a  driver,  a  stableman,  a  cow-herd,  or 
a  cheesemaker,  all  callings  that  are  open  to  an  Alpine  youth, 
and  involve,  as  a  rule,  less  perils  than  does  that  of  a  glacier 
guide  ? 

Till  the  age  of  eighteen  or  twenty  the  boys  and  youths  pass  very 
much  the  same  kind  of  lives,  whatever  is  to  be  their  future  calling. 
As  early  as  the  age  of  three  or  four  an  Alpine  boy  is  well  used  to 
managing  his  small  sledge  down  steep  snow  slopes  in  winter,  even 
if  it  be  only  around  his  father's  house.  They  thus  learn  much 
unconsciously  as  to  the  varying  character  of  the  snow  at  different 
times,  and,  though  summer  snow  is  not  quite  the  same  as  winter 
snow,  it  is  snow  of  a  kind.  They  acquire,  too,  habits  of  dexterity 
as  to  their  legs,  which  may  easily  be  injured  if  they  do  not 
manage  them  properly,  as  well  as  of  watchfulness  as  to  critical 
bits  of  the  steep  snow  slope  down  which  they  love  to  career  so 
madly.  It  is  surprising  to  find  what  small  boys  are  taken  in 
winter  by  their  fathers,  or  uncles,  or  elder  brothers,  or  wander 
off  with  chosen  comrades,  towards  the  high  pastures  that  stretch 
above  their  native  village.  For  several  winters  running  the 
present  writer  met  a  small  boy  (first  when  he  was  only  five  years 
old)  climbing  vrith  his  father  up  heavy  snow  slopes  for  some 
2000  feet  above  his  home,  and  then,  in  the  afternoon,  returning 
merry  and  untired,  on  his  sledge,  or  else  dragging  behind  him  a 
young  sapling  for  two  hours  or  so.  It  is  all  play  to  the  boys, 
and  so  is  delightful,  while  naturally  the  father  is  imitated,  some- 
times quite  comically,  at  every  stage.  At  the  age  of  seven  the 
boy  goes  to  school,  but  of  course  he  goes  there,  in  winter,  on  his 
sledge.  In  the  afternoon  he  is  free,  so  that  then  he  can  toboggan, 
or  run  about,  or  carry  up  coffee  to  his  father  at  work  among  the 
hills.  Often,  on  a  holiday,  a  band  of  quite  small  boys  will 
wander  over  hill  and  dale,  or  else  make,  with  the  entire  school, 
or  its  upper  classes,  a  great  excursion,  say  over  the  Wengern 
Alp.  At  school  the  boy  is  taught  gymnastics  of  a  simple  kind, 
so  that  his  small  body  gets  well  trained  in  many  fashions.  At 
the  age  of  ten  he  will  generally  be  set  to  chop  wood  for  the  use 


ALPINE  GUIDES  267 

of  his  father's  household.  Later,  he  will  be  sent  out  to  look 
after  the  sheep  or  goats,  or  to  lead  them  up  to  the  high  pastures, 
or  to  bring  them  down,  the  more  valuable  cows  being  under  the 
charge  of  the  older  men.  As  they  advance  in  years  these  boys 
hear  about  the  ascents  of  the  high  peaks  around  their  valley* 
for  few  have  not  some  relative  who  is  not  concerned  in  some 
way  with  that  source  of  money-getting.  Very  possibly  they 
will  offer  their  services  as  path-finders  on  small  excursions  to 
foreign  travellers,  for  the  summer  is  the  school  vacation,  and  so 
they  are  free,  save  when  wanted  to  do  jobs  at  home.  But  it  is 
very  rare  for  an  Alpine  boy  (however  strange  it  may  seem  to  be 
at  first  sight)  to  set  foot  on  a  glacier  before  he  is  twelve  or  four- 
teen years  of  age.  A  lad  aged  twelve  and  a  half  years  once  made, 
with  his  father,  his  uncle,  and  the  writer,  the  ascent  of  one  of  the 
peaks  of  the  Wetterhorn,  and  was  regarded  with  feelings  of  wild 
envy  by  his  school  comrades.  His  father  had  been  up  the 
Schreckhorn  at  the  age  of  fourteen,  and  he  was  thought  to  be  a 
sort  of  infant  prodigy.  Schooling  ends  by  sixteen.  But  the  youth 
begins  to  work  (if  he  has  not  already  begun  to  work)  as  a 
labourer  on  his  father's  homestead,  or  to  help  his  father  bring 
down  hay  in  winter  from  distant  barns,  or  to  fell  and  then  trans- 
port the  trees  felled  in  autumn  for  use  as  fuel.  Now  there  are 
few  forms  of  training  more  effectual  and  useful  for  a  future  guide 
than  bringing  down  heavy  logs  of  wood  on  a  big  sledge  in 
winter.  It  is  a  very  great  strain  on  the  legs  ;  it  requires  con- 
siderable nerve  and  dexterity,  so  that  bodily  strength  is  by  no 
means  all  that  is  required  ;  it  involves  danger  of  death  or  mutila- 
tion if  the  sledge  is  allowed  to  gain  too  great  momentum,  and 
so  pass  over  the  body  of  the  man  sitting  in  front  of  it — every 
winter  there  are  accidents,  arising  from  some  mistake  as  to 
managing  these  heavy  sledges.  Thus  a  lad  must  have  some 
presence  of  mind  and  be  ready  to  alter  his  tactics  as  the  heavy 
weight  behind  him  sways  from  side  to  side,  or  threatens  to  over- 
whelm him. 

Now,  as  we  have  said  above,  the  training  we  have  described 
is  much  the  same  for  all  the  healthy  boys  of  an  Alpine  valley  till 
they  have  left  school.     Then  comes  the  question  of  the  future 


268     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

career  of  each.  Some  naturally  drift  to  one  or  other  form  of 
industry,  wherein  their  special  personal  tastes  or  likings  or 
qualifications  will  be  of  use  to  them.  Much,  too,  depends,  as 
always  in  similar  cases,  on  the  father's  occupation,  for  his  boys 
naturally  incline  towards  the  industry  with  which  they  have  been 
most  familiar  from  their  youth  up.  Some  decide  to  become 
guides,  pass  a  rather  easy  literary  and  practical  examination,  and 
obtain  their  certificates  as  full-fiedged  guides,  though  this  cannot 
happen  before  they  are  twenty  years  of  age  and  possess  the  neces- 
sary bodily  qualifications.  It  is  odd,  however,  to  find  some  men 
acting  as  glacier  guides  who  yet  have  been  refused,  at  the  same 
age  of  twenty,  as  recruits  for  the  Swiss  army.  A  very  slight 
physical  defect  ensures  rejection  (fifty  to  fifty-five  per  cent,  of 
the  young  fellows  available  are  refused  annually),  and  yet  that 
man  may  become  an  excellent  guide.  Several  cases  of  this  kind 
are  well  known  to  the  present  writer. 

But  all  guides  are  not  glacier  guides.  In  fact,  it  is  only 
the  minority  of  guides  who  even  desire  to  become  glacier  guides. 
The  writer  has  never  forgotten  his  very  earliest  experience  on 
this  point.  On  his  first  walks  in  the  Alps,  he  had  been  taken 
round  by  a  pleasant-spoken  young  fellow,  who  showed  him  all 
the  sights  of  the  valley  and  was  an  agreeable  companion.  But 
when  the  writer,  fired  by  the  desire  of  attempting  a  glacier 
expedition,  albeit  only  the  passage  of  the  Strahlegg,  intimated 
his  intention  to  this  young  man,  the  '  guide  '  declined  politely  but 
firmly,  on  the  ground  that  he  never  undertook  such  dangerous 
expeditions !  Glacier  guides  then  form  a  set  apart,  and  are  thus 
picked  men. 

Now  even  if  a  newly  fledged  young  guide  desires  to  enter  this 
select  class,  it  is  not  always  easy  for  him  to  do  so.  He  may 
have  more  than  the  requisite  physical  strength,  quite  sufificient 
mental  outfit,  a  laudable  ambition  to  do  great  things.  But  he 
is  given  no  chance  of  attaining  his  object  and  falls  back  into 
the  common  ruck.  Two  circumstances  that  may  fairly  be  called 
accidental  have  a  decisive  influence  on  the  early  or  future  career 
of  an  ambitious  young  guide.  One  is  the  question  whether  he 
belongs  to  an  '  hereditary  guide  family '  (for  we  are  not  thinking 


ALPINE  GUIDES  269 

of  the  very  early  guides,  but  of  the  present  generation,  their 
descendants),  or  has  any  'guide  connections,'  such  as  relations 
with  hotel  porters,  who  have  the  opportunity  of  recommending 
one  or  another  guide.  If  our  young  fellow  has  no  such  advan- 
tages, his  first  steps  will  be  very  laborious  and  painful.  One 
man,  who  certainly  in  his  day  would  have  been  reckoned  in  any 
list  of  first-class  guides,  assured  the  present  writer  some  years 
ago,  that,  having  no  such  '  family  connections,'  he  had  had  a  very 
hard  time  at  first,  and,  in  order  to  learn  his  trade  thoroughly 
and  the  way  about,  had  acted  as  porter  (though  a  fully  licensed 
guide)  for  many  long  years.  With  him  perseverance  and 
patience  won  the  day  at  last.  It  is,  of  course,  but  natural 
that  fathers  and  uncles  and  elder  brothers  should  prefer  to 
take  with  them  the  younger  members  of  their  own  families, 
and  teach  them  (rather  than  outsiders)  the  tricks  of  the  trade 
which  they  themselves  had  learnt  in  their  day.  Yet,  while 
some  outsiders  do  by  constant  and  long-continued  exertion 
manage  to  gain  admittance  to  this  charmed  circle  of  glacier 
guides,  other  lads,  who  by  birth  belong  to  it,  do  not  care  to 
make  use  of  their  advantages  and  opportunities.  Tastes  differ 
here  as  elsewhere. 

The  other  accidental  circumstance  to  which  we  alluded  above 
is  the  question  whether  a  young  guide  has  the  luck  to  get  chosen 
as  the  constant  companion  of  some  active  amateur  climber. 
Quite  apart  from  the  prospect  of  a  continuous  engagement, 
rain  or  shine,  and  so  of  continuous  wages,  the  prospect  that  such 
an  engagement  opens  out  to  a  young  and  ambitious  guide  may 
be  very  brilliant.  Not  merely  do  two  such  comrades  get  to 
know  each  other  very  thoroughly  in  storm  and  stress,  as  well  as 
in  peace  and  sunshine,  but  the  sphere  of  action  of  the  young 
guide  is  much  widened.  An  amateur  rarely,  save  for  some 
special  reason,  cares  to  make  the  same  climb  more  than  once. 
Hence  his  own  particular  guide  is  transported  from  his  native 
valley,  sees  many  other  mountain  districts,  and  gains  much  more 
experience.  Unless  a  local  guide  is  taken  (and  even  sometimes 
when  one  is  taken),  our  young  guide  will  be  much  thrown  on  his 
own  resources  :  he  has  to  climb  mountains  or  cross  passes  that 


270     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

he  has  never  seen  before,  his  intelligence  is  stimulated  by  the 
absolute  necessity  of  learning  how  to  read  maps,  his  ideas  are 
enlarged  by  visits  to  lands  where  his  own  language  or  dialect  is 
barely,  if  at  all,  understood,  he  learns  to  put  up  with  the  inevit- 
able inconveniences  of  travel,  his  responsibility  becomes  heavier. 
Of  course,  not  every  young  man  is  quick  or  capable  of  availing 
himself  of  the  advantages  that  may  accrue  to  him  from  such  a 
comradeship.  But  the  present  writer  has  two  cases  in  his  mind's 
eye,  in  both  of  which  the  young  fellow  eagerly  seized  on  the 
opportunity  offered  and  did  his  best,  most  successfully,  to  profit 
by  it.  It  is  said  that  long  engagements  are  no  longer  so  common 
as  of  old.  More 's  the  pity  from  the  point  of  view  both  of  the 
amateur  and  of  the  guide.  Yet  the  great  advantage  of  being  able 
to  count  year  after  year  on  the  same  employer  is  well  recognised 
by  the  guides  themselves,  who  say  sometimes,  rather  pitifully,  or 
it  may  be  with  a  spice  of  malice,  of  a  colleague,  '  Oh,  he  has  no 
longer  any  Monsieur,'  meaning  that  the  man  in  question  must 
be  content  with  chance  engagements,  which  depend  much  on 
the  weather  and  on  other  accidents. 

Now  among  glacier  or  high-mountain  guides  there  are  men 
and  men.  Putting  aside  any  accidental  circumstances,  the 
difference  largely  consists  in  a  difference  between  one  man 
and  another.  Whether  the  instincts  of  a  first-class  guide  are 
natural  or  are  acquired  is  rather  an  idle  question,  for  acquired 
instincts,  when  the  occasion  arises  to  profit  by  them,  are 
practically  equivalent  to  natural  instincts.  Among  the  qualities 
that  mark  off  a  first-class  guide  from  another  guide  are  the  gift 
of  path-finding  (especially  of  retracing  a  route  previously  taken 
in  the  opposite  direction) ;  the  physical  strength  to  undergo  hard 
bodily  labour,  such  as  long-continued  step-cutting ;  the  power  of 
deciding,  without  hesitation,  what  is  to  be  done  in  that  exact 
state  of  the  weather  or  of  the  snow  ;  the  faculty  of  preserving  his 
presence  of  mind  if  and  when  a  crisis  arises ;  the  strength  of 
will,  regardless  of  any  possible  consequences  in  the  future  to 
his  professional  reputation,  though  only  among  silly  people,  of 
insisting  on  retreat  if  he  deems  it  desirable.  In  drawing  out 
this  list  (which  might  be  easily  lengthened)  the  writer  has  con- 


!/:i.l 


ALPINE  GUIDES  271 

Crete  cases  in  his  mind's  eye.  In  his  opinion,  the  best  first- 
class  guides  ought  to  possess  the  qualities  that  are  required  of 
capable  non-commissioned  officers  in  the  army,  and  it  is  curious 
to  discover  in  many  cases  that  the  guide  who  has  proved  his 
mettle  is  really  a  non-commissioned  officer  in  the  army  of  his 
native  land.  If  it  be  desired  to  select  a  single  test  by  which 
to  judge  of  a  man's  guiding-power,  we  should  be  inclined  to  ask 
that  the  candidates  should  be  placed,  each  in  command  of  a 
party,  on  a  crevassed  glacier,  known  to  them,  but  then  en- 
shrouded in  a  thick  mist.  Here  again  it  is  not  so  much  the 
actual  finding  the  right  way  to  take  that  counts,  but  rather  the 
power  of  keeping  calm  and  composed  when,  as  is  always  the 
case,  the  rest  of  the  party  is  demoralised  by  the  sudden  descent 
of  a  mountain  mist,  blotting  out  all  landmarks,  and  even  the 
tracks  made  on  the  way  up,  owing  to  the  slight  snow-fall  which 
often  accompanies  it  at  high  altitudes.  A  good  man,  whatever 
his  private  anxieties  may  be,  will  keep  up  the  spirits  of  his  party 
by  being  cheery  and  encouraging,  allowing  no  member  to 
indulge  in  useless  lamentations  or  complaints,  keeping  all  on  the 
move,  looking  after  the  husbanding  of  the  provisions,  in  case  of 
later  need,  leading,  laughing,  hoping,  helping  his  companions  in 
every  way.  If,  under  such  circumstances,  a  guide  gets  his  party 
out  of  their  predicament,  there  must  be  something  else  very 
much  against  him,  or  the  writer  would  unhesitatingly  award 
him  a  first-class  certificate.  But  be  it  recollected  that  first-class 
guides  are  very  rare ;  perhaps  not  twenty  could  be  named 
in  the  whole  chain  of  the  Alps  at  the  present  time,  and  very 
likely  the  really  good  men  are  not  those  who  enjoy  a  great 
public  reputation — it  all  depends  among  what  kind  of  amateurs 
that  reputation  is  enjoyed. 

The  present  writer  has  travelled  so  long  with  absolutely  first- 
class  guides  that  he  has  perhaps  an  unduly  high  estimate  of  the 
qualities  that  ought  to  be  possessed  by  a  man  laying  claim  to  be 
reckoned  in  that  category.  To  him,  an  old  stager,  the  modern 
race  of  younger  guides  seems  to  fall  far  below  their  predecessors. 
They  are  perhaps  better  mannered,  they  may  speak  foreign 
tongues  with  greater  facility,  they  are  dressed  a  Panglaise^  in 


272     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

knickerbockers  and  Norfolk  jackets,  they  wear  a  cock's  feather 
in  their  hats  ci  la  tyrolienne,  they  can  ski,  they  can  skate — it 
would  be  too  much  to  say  that  they  catinot  guide,  for  a  few 
of  them  can  certainly  scramble  up  rock  pinnacles.  No  doubt, 
they  have  not  had  the  opportunities  enjoyed  by  their  fore- 
runners, and  for  that  they  cannot  reasonably  be  blamed.  Their 
practical  experience  is  therefore  much  more  limited,  and  is 
generally  confined  to  the  peaks  and  passes  in  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of  their  own  valley.  But  to  us  they  seem  to 
lack  the  nerve,  the  dash,  the  sterling  qualities  of  the  guides  of 
the  good  old  days.  Then  the  best  men  were  like  generals, 
commanding  a  small  force ;  Jioiv  the  best  men  are  more  like 
servants,  simply  obeying  orders  and  carrying  them  out  as  they 
can.  But  perhaps  these  criticisms  are  simply  the  groans  of  a 
croaker,  whose  recollections  of  the  '  good  old  days '  have,  let  us 
say,  become  mellowed  in  the  course  of  time.  It  may  be  so,  but 
the  recollections  are  very  pleasant,  and  as  the  writer  does  not 
climb  any  longer,  the  matter  has  really  but  a  sentimental  interest. 
Those  who  'wandered'  in  the  old  days  will  most  certainly 
agree  with  him,  and  be  as  sure,  as  he  is,  that  nothing  could 
surpass  the  enjoyment  then  gained,  though,  perhaps,  their 
predecessors  would  not  be  inclined  to  admit  to  the  full  that  they 
had  not  had  the  monopoly  in  their  time.  However,  to  each 
generation  its  special  joys  and  sorrows,  among  the  mountains  as 
elsewhere.  The  youngsters  of  the  present  day,  in  their  turn, 
years  hence  it  is  to  be  hoped,  will  find  their  thoughts  revert  to 
the  earlier  years  of  their  climbing  period.  One  may,  of  course, 
be  deceived,  but  it  is  just  those  first  years,  when  one  is  in  one's 
prime,  that  one  enjoys  Alpine  climbing  most  keenly,  and  that 
the  recollections  of  ascents  then  accomplished,  and  of  the  trusty 
guides  who  then  really  led  their  party,  are  the  freshest  and  the 
most  vivid.  May  present-day  mountaineers  be  able  to  recall, 
when  the  time  comes  for  them  to  retire  from  active  climbing,  some- 
thing dimly  resembling  those  delightful  experiences  which  their 
predecessors  from  say  1870  to  1890  can  recall !  If  such  is  their 
good  fortune,  they  can  better  enter  into  the  memories  of  one  who 
became  a  mountaineer  in  the  dark  days  between  1865  and  1870. 


CHAPTER  XII 

A  year's  round  in  the  alps 

FEW  persons,  save  those  lucky  individuals  who  are  actually 
natives  of  the  Alps,  can  have  had  such  good  fortune  as 
has  been  the  privilege  of  the  present  writer  in  the  matter  of 
prolonged  and  detailed  acquaintance  with  that  glorious  moun- 
tain-chain. Since  1865  no  summer  has  passed  by  during  which 
he  has  not  visited  them,  while  he  first  saw  them  in  their  winter 
garb  in  December,  1873 — January,  1874.  Little  by  little  his 
summer  sojourns  amongst  them  lengthened  at  both  ends.  He 
tarried  longer  in  the  autumn  and  arrived  earlier  in  the  summer, 
so  that  finally  it  was  hard  to  decide  if  his  visits  did  not  melt  at 
either  end  into  winter  or  spring.  Then  in  March,  1896,  he 
came  to  reside  in  the  lovely  Alpine  valley  of  Grindelwald,  where 
these  words  are  written.  Since  that  date,  over  twelve  years  ago, 
he  has  but  rarely  quitted  them,  and  then  only  twice  for  more 
than  two  or  three  weeks  at  a  time.  Hence  few,  not  being  natives 
of  the  Alps,  can  know  the  mountains  better  at  every  season 
of  the  year,  though  unluckily  the  keenest  appreciation  does  not 
carry  with  it  the  power  of  conveying  that  appreciation  to  others, 
or  even  of  expressing  it  in  words.  Yet  some  attempt  must  be 
made  to  picture  the  Alps  at  varying  seasons,  so  as  to  round 
off  our  account,  albeit  in  an  imperfect  fashion. 

The  vast  majority  of  Alpine  travellers  see  the  Alps  in  summer 
first,  and  in  summer  only.  This  is  in  part  due  to  the  fact  that 
holidays  generally  come  in  summer,  and  that  the  Alps  are  the 
'play-ground  of  Europe.'  Without  doubt,  summer  in  the  Alps 
has  great  advantages.  The  winter  and  spring  snows  have  gone 
or  are  going ;  the  meadows  and  pastures  are  gay  with  a  mul- 
s 


274     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

titude  of  delightful  flowers   (till  the  scythe  lays  them  low  or 
the  cows  eat  them  up),  and  so  afford  an  admirable  foreground 
for  the  great  rock   and  ice  summits  that  tower  above  them  ; 
everywhere  hotels  are  open  ;  the  railways  are  in  full  working ; 
the  coolness  of  the  Alpine  air  is  deliciously  refreshing  to  any  one 
who  flies  from   the  heat  of  the  plains  ;  it  is  possible  to  sit  in 
long  rapt  admiration  of  the  wonderful  scenes  that  are  unrolled 
before  one's  eyes ;  the  sky,  especially  when  one  has  attained 
great  heights,  is  all  but  black  in  its  dark  azure  hue — in  short 
it  would  seem  that  no  season  could  be  more  favourable  for  a 
long  stay  among  the  Alps.     Yet  those  who  know  them  best  are 
most  aware  that  the  summer  is  not  the  real  life  of  the  Alps,  but 
simply  a  hectic  and  feverish  interval  of  restlessness  and  move- 
ment (not  merely  of  tourists)  that  barely  fills  a  quarter  of  the 
year.     As  the  summer  advances  the  flowers  disappear,  for  the 
cattle  mount  higher  and  higher,  and  the  snow  melts  more  and 
more,  thus  greatly  facilitating  mountain  excursions,  but  at  the 
same  time  leaving  the  great  peaks  either  rock  masses  of  nearly 
unrelieved  black,  or  shining  glassy  ice,  but  without  the  delicate 
veil  of  snow  that  adorns  them   at  other  times.     The  tourists 
become  more  and  more  numerous,  though  those  who  know  can 
still  find  nooks  unprofaned  by  the  madding  crowd,  nooks  that 
the  discoverers  keep  carefully  to  themselves,  or  reveal  only  to  a 
few  like-minded  friends.     By  the  end  of  August  the  tender  grass 
and  the  flowers  and  most  of  the  snow  have  all  gone,  and  one 
almost   seems  to  see  the   skeleton  of  the   mountains   without 
any  flesh  upon   or   around  them.     The  effect   is    monotonous 
and  wearisome,  as  must  be  admitted  by  every  traveller  who  has 
seen  the  Alps  in  mid-June  and  at  the  end  of  August.     Black  or 
blue-black  is  the  true   colour   of  the    Alps   in   the   height   of 
summer,  and  it  is  but  slightly  relieved  by  glimpses  of  blue  and 
green,  both   these  hues   tending   to   become   paler   and    more 
effaced  as  the  weeks  roll  on. 

At  the  end  of  August  there  is  almost  always  a  considerable 
snow-fall  in  the  Alps,  which  at  once  drives  away  the  tourists  who 
imagine  that  winter  has  already  set  in.  Those  who  are  wise 
keep  up  their  courage  amid  the  driving  snow,  and  are  all  but 


A  YEAR'S  ROUND  IN  THE  ALPS         275 

always  plenteously  rewarded.  The  autumn  snow  throws  a 
delicate  lace  veil  of  purest  white  over  the  naked  bodies  of  the 
great  peaks,  softening  the  blackness  of  the  rocks  and  the  dim, 
uncanny  shining  of  the  ice  upon  them.  It  is  true  that  the  high 
mountain  pastures  are  not  of  such  a  heavenly  green  as  in  the 
early  summer.  But,  by  way  of  compensation,  the  trees  (other 
than  pines)  and  the  brushwood  on  the  hillsides  assume  most 
wonderful  russet-brown  and  reddish-gold  tints  which  glow  like 
fires  and  illuminate  even  the  ugliest  slopes.  There  are  few  more 
marvellous  sights  than  the  valley  of  the  Liitschine  between 
Grindelwald  and  Interlaken  in  October.  The  cattle  come 
down  amid  general  rejoicing,  the  count  of  cheese,  butter,  hay 
is  closed,  and  as  October  deepens  into  November  and  December 
the  Alps  and  their  inhabitants  prepare  for  the  winter.  Yet 
often  till  late  in  November,  despite  morning  rime,  and 
occasional  snow  flurries,  the  air  is  so  mild  and  the  sun  so  warm 
that  on  a  fine  day  it  is  a  perfect  delight  to  sit  out  or  to  make 
excursions  to  some  well-known  hay  hut  on  the  upper  pastures. 
The  fences  that  have  guarded  the  hay  meadows  since  early 
summer  are  now  thrown  down,  and  one  can  wander  at  one's 
will  over  them,  without  need  of  troubling  about  the  growing 
grass.  Then,  too,  if  living  in  a  high  Alpine  valley,  one  reads, 
with  full  appreciation  of  one's  good  fortune,  about  the  '  sea  of 
clouds '  that  broods,  damp  and  choking,  over  the  plains  below, 
while  above  one  is  revelling  in  the  keen  pure  air  and  cloudless 
sky  and  restful  quiet  after  the  departure  of  the  noisy  throngs. 

Some  readers  may  be  inclined  to  object  that  such  glories  must 
be  of  most  exceptional  occurrence.  Certainly  there  are  bad 
autumns  when  it  rains  or  snows  with  scarcely  a  break,  but  then 
there  are  also  summers  of  similar  character.  It  is  far  better  to 
assume  in  both  cases  that  normal  weather  conditions  prevail,  and 
then  the  glories  faintly  indicated  above  will  be  the  lot  of  the 
enchanted  visitor,  who  dares  brave  prejudice  and  visits  the  Alps 
at  a  non-fashionable  time  of  the  year. 

As  autumn  advances  the  dwellers  in  an  Alpine  valley  resume 
their  ordinary  avocations  after  the  distractions  of  the  summer. 
Cow-herds,  milkers,  cheesemakers,  guides,  porters,  drivers,  rail- 


2/6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

way  men,  and  so  on,  throw  aside  the  occupation  which  brings 
grist  to  the  mill.  They  become  once  more  simple  peasant 
proprietors,  busied  with  the  care  of  their  cows,  now  back  from 
the  summer  pastures,  with  receiving  each  his  proper  proportion 
of  cheese  made  on  the  mountain  pastures  in  the  summer,  with 
bringing  down  hay  from  the  heights  (profiting  by  an  occasional 
snow-storm),  with  felling  the  trees  in  the  forests  that  will  serve 
as  fuel  during  the  winter  or  as  materials  for  the  repair  of  the 
house  or  of  the  stable,  or  for  the  construction  of  new  build- 
ings. Every  one  is  now  absorbed  by  the  duties  of  his  real 
life,  and  has  cast  off  for  nine  months  the  artificial  restraints  that 
have  bound  him  during  the  summer.  One  may  know  well  some 
celebrated  mountain  guide,  or  a  railway  station-master,  or  the 
lord  of  some  cheese-hut,  each  amid  their  summer  surroundings. 
But  it  is  not  at  first  easy  to  recognise  them,  freed  from  knicker- 
bockers and  Norfolk  jackets  or  uniforms  or  rough  overalls,  and 
clad  in  the  simple  clothes,  woven  perchance  in  the  valley  itself, 
that  constitute  their  everyday  attire  for  the  greater  part  of  the 
year.  Such  rough  but  serviceable  clothes  are  admirably  adapted 
for  the  hard  work  that  is  the  daily  portion  of  every  able-bodied 
man  in  an  Alpine  valley.  They  cease  to  think  of  foreign  visitors, 
and  become  athletic  labourers.  As  winter  comes  on — but  this  is 
rarely  before  the  middle  of  December — these  men  bring  down  on 
great  sledges  the  late  hay  and  the  logs  that  have  been  prepared 
in  the  autumn,  or  the  fallen  leaves  of  trees  carefully  collected 
together  to  be  used  as  stuffing  for  mattresses,  or  pine-cones  for 
the  family  fire.  The  dexterity  requ  ired  to  manage  a  heavy  sledge 
weighing  (without  its  tackle)  some  forty  pounds  (this  has  had  to  be 
carried  on  the  man's  shoulders  in  the  early  morning,  while  at  the 
same  time  he  makes  a  track)  is  most  remarkable,  and  practice  is 
absolutely  necessary,  as  a  moment's  faltering  or  slip  unwarily  made 
means  death  or  serious  mutilation.  These  tracks  are,  of  course, 
much  improved  by  the  descent  of  the  heavily  laden  sledges  on 
their  downward  journey,  and  are  most  useful  for  foreign  visitors, 
though  they  do  not  always  lead  to  the  desired  spot,  but  only  to 
the  'cache'  where  wood,  now  deep  in  snow,  has  been  piled  up  in 
autumn.      The  air  is   keener  and    crisper  and  colder  than  in 


A  YEAR'S  ROUND  IN  THE  ALPS         277 

autumn,  while,  of  course,  the  sun  is  no  longer  so  high  above  the 
horizon.  But  if  there  is  no  wind,  even  really  intense  cold  is  but 
little  felt,  while  a  short  climb  up  from  the  valley  lands  one  in 
the  brightest  of  sunshine,  warm  and  grateful,  if  of  short  duration, 
though  daily  increasing  in  this  respect.  The  soft  snow  and  the 
sparkling  rime  on  the  pines  glitter  brilliantly  in  radiant  sun- 
shine ;  the  sky  above  is  of  a  wonderful  blue,  though  less  intense 
and  dark  than  in  summer ;  the  whole  effect,  on  a  fine  winter's 
day,  is  one  of  light  blue  and  silver.  Walking  is  a  joy  (we  pass 
over  the  modern  imported  distractions  of  skiing,  tobogganing, 
and  skating),  and  that  even  when  (or  because)  it  is  necessary  to 
fight  one's  way  through  deep  snow,  reaching  one's  goal  with  a 
proud  feeling  of  having  earned  it  by  hard  work,  and  with  one's 
body  filled  with  a  glow  that  often  is  perilously  near  fever-heat.  Yet, 
if  winter  joys  in  the  Alps  are  great,  there  is  one  great  drawback  to 
this  season  from  the  picturesque  point  of  view.  A  uniform 
dress  of  snow  covers  all  the  hills,  great  and  small,  so  that  the 
great  peaks  are  dwarfed  and  the  small  ones  gain  in  apparent 
stature.  It  becomes  hard  for  an  unpractised  eye,  or  for  a  man 
who  does  not  know  the  region  in  summer,  to  say  definitely  that 
such  and  such  a  peak  is  really  several  thousand  feet  higher 
than  another  which  seems  to  tower  over  it.  Distances  become 
deceptive  and  heights  a  delusion  and  a  snare.  Yet  to  those  who 
are  familiar  with  these  scenes  at  other  seasons  than  winter  there 
is  a  great  charm  in  studying  the  dear  old  faces  under  their  novel 
aspect,  and  in  painfully  (in  the  literal  sense  of  the  word)  forcing 
one's  way  along  a  well-known  path,  marvelling  that  a  little  frozen 
water,  fallen  from  above,  can  so  transform  and  beautify  one's 
favourite  haunts.  To  the  present  writer  winter  is  the  most 
delightful  season  in  the  Alps,  coupled  with  early  summer,  if  the 
weather  is  fine. 

Winter  in  an  Alpine  valley  ends  in  March,  though  there  is 
often  a  foretaste  of  spring  in  February,  while  winter  visitors  know 
too  well  how  often  a  horrid  thaw  sets  in  regularly  about  New 
Year's  Day,  just  when  they  fondly  imagine  that  they  are  in  the 
very  heart  of  winter.  By  March  and  April  the  spring  avalanches 
begin  to  fall  with  power  and  might  from  the  great  peaks,  which 


278     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

have  kept  a  dignified  and  majestic  silence  all  through  the  winter. 
This  means  the  awakening  of  nature  and  of  man,  though  neither 
has  been  asleep  in  the  winter,  like  the  marmots.  Preparations 
must  be  made  for  sowing  grass  and  potatoes  and  perhaps  a  few 
cereals.  The  cows  issue  occasionally  from  their  winter-quarters, 
blinking  at  the  unaccustomed  light  of  day,  and  unsteady  on  their 
half-numbed  legs.  The  village  school  starts  a  new  year  with 
Easter,  and  that  means  that  the  boys  and  girls  of  sixteen  are 
sent  out  into  the  world,  after  an  education  completed  (in  the 
Protestant  districts)  by  Confirmation  at  the  hands  of  their  be- 
loved pastor.  New  life  is  visible  everywhere.  The  crocuses 
and  later  the  gentians  peep  shyly  through  the  snow,  which  has 
kept  the  earth  warm  all  the  winter  long ;  the  sun's  rays  gain 
force  and  power,  lingering  lovingly  on  the  valley  and  on  the 
village  nestling  in  its  hollow,  not  far  above  the  stream ;  a  tender 
greenness  colours  in  an  amazingly  short  space  of  time  the  fields, 
next  the  gardens,  first  the  lower  pastures,  then  the  higher  pas- 
tures, and  creeps  up  steadily  from  day  to  day.  The  slope  that 
extends  at  the  foot  of  the  great  peaks  becomes  once  more 
delicately  beautiful  and  lovely  ;  the  mountains  still  wrap  them- 
selves in  fragments  of  their  winter  dress,  that  clings  to  their 
flanks  while  not  burying  them  beneath  an  impenetrable  cloak. 
In  short,  the  Alpine  world  is  green,  and  that  is  the  colour  of  an 
Alpine  spring.  But  spring  in  the  Alps  as  elsewhere  is  a  variable 
and  fickle  quantity,  and  brings  with  it  many  disappointments. 

Such  are  the  colours  of  the  Alpine  year — black  and  azure  in 
summer,  russet-brown  and  reddish-gold  in  autumn,  pale  blue 
and  silver  in  winter,  and  tender  green  in  spring — such  is  Nature's 
palette  in  the  Alps. 


».^ 


A 

»; 


CHAPTER   XIII 

THE    VARIOUS    DIVISIONS   AND    GROUPS    OF   THE    ALPS 

IN  the  preceding  pages  (save  in  the  two  historical  Chapters, 
VII,  and  VIII.)  we  have  treated  of  the  Alps  as  a  whole,  con- 
sidering first  their  principal  physical  characteristics,  next  their 
inhabitants  and  their  history,  and  finally  the  exploits  of  the 
bold  adventurers  who  have  conquered  their  loftiest  pinnacles. 
We  must  now  study  the  great  chain  more  in  detail,  and  dis- 
cover the  characteristic  features  which  mark  off  one  region  from 
another,  our  attention  being  largely  devoted  to  the  physical 
aspect  of  the  Alps,  for  the  inhabitants  of  the  several  districts 
have  been  spoken  of  above  (Chapter  vi.).  Let  it,  however,  never 
be  forgotten  that  all  physical  divisions  of  the  Alps  are  purely 
artificial,  and  are  adopted  simply  for  reasons  of  practical  con- 
venience ;  the  inhabitants  of  the  Alps  in  every  part  of  the  chain 
live,  too,  very  much  the  same  life,  and  closely  resemble  each 
other,  apart  of  course  from  questions  of  language  and  religion, 
though  the  dwellers  in  the  higher  valleys  are  distinguished  by 
many  special  traits  from  those  who  have  their  home  in  less 
rugged  and  more  productive  regions. 

A. — The  Main  Divisions  of  the  Alps 

A  few  writers  have  proposed  to  divide  the  Alpine  chain  into  two 
great  divisions  only — the  Western  Alps  and  the  Eastern  Alps. 
But  though  these  two  divisions  are,  roughly  speaking,  of  about 
the  same  extent,  this  plan  is  open  to  several  objections,  quite 
apart  from  any  geological  considerations,  of  which  no  account  is 
taken  in  this  work.     We  naturally  associate  the  term  '  Eastern 

279 


28o     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Alps '  with  the  Tyrol,  but  these  writers  use  it  in  a  wider  sense 
and  include  under  it  the  eastern  part  of  the  Swiss  Alps.  Further, 
the  designation  of  '  Western  Alps,'  as  employed  by  these  writers, 
takes  in  not  merely  the  Swiss  Alps,  but  all  the  French  Alps,  and 
most  of  the  Italian  Alps,  so  that  there  is  no  clear  line  of  distinc- 
tion to  be  found,  and  that,  after  all,  is  the  principal  object  of 
creating  any  divisions  at  all.  From  a  practical  point  of  view 
some  account  77iiist  be  taken  of  the  linguistic  and  political  con- 
ditions prevailing  in  the  Alps,  which  this  division  tends  to  ignore 
or  confound.  Other  writers  include  in  the  '  Western  Alps '  all, 
or  nearly  all,  the  Swiss  Alps,  but  this  system  is  open  to  very 
much  the  same  kind  of  objections  as  the  former. 

The  most  generally  recognised  Divisions  of  the  Alps  are  the 
Western,  the  Central,  and  the  Eastern  Alps.  Such  a  scheme 
corresponds  pretty  well  to  the  chief  political  and  linguistic  divi- 
sions, though  of  course  no  plan  for  splitting  up  a  continuous 
chain  can  ever  approach  ideal  perfection.  This  is  best  realised 
as  soon  as  we  attempt  to  fix  the  limits  between  the  divisions 
selected. 

As  stated  in  Chapter  i.,  the  subject  of  this  book  is  the  Alpine 
chain  proper,  as  distinguished  on  the  one  side  from  the  Apen- 
nines, and  on  the  other  from  the  hills  that  extend  towards  the 
borders  of  Hungary.  Hence  the  Col  de  Tenda,  at  the  one 
extremity,  and  the  Radstadter  Tauern,  at  the  other,  mark  off 
the  '  Alps '  in  the  sense  in  which  we  employ  the  name  in  these 
pages.  It  is  generally  admitted  that,  within  these  limits,  the 
most  practical  course  is  to  select  other  great  Passes  across  the 
main  chain  as  the  spots  at  which  more  minute  divisions  can  best 
be  made.  The  following  scheme  is  that  which  best  approves 
itself  to  the  present  writer,  who  has  visited  all  parts  of  the  Alps, 
save  the  central  Bernina  and  the  Bergamasque  Alps,  as  well  as 
the  ranges  of  North  and  Central  Tyrol  and  of  Bavaria,  and  those 
rising  at  the  S.E.  end  of  the  chain. 

I.  The  Western  Alps  (from  the  Col  de  Tenda  to  the  Simplon 
Pass). — Our  starting-point  is  naturally  the  Col  de  Tenda  (6145 
ft.).     But  where  are  we  to  fix  the  point  of  division  between  this 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  281 

group  and  the  Central  Alps?  There  is  no  trouble  at  all  about 
the  main  watershed,  which  is  well  defined  and  clear  till  near  the 
borders  of  the  Tyrol.  Its  direction,  too,  is,  from  a  comparatively 
short  distance  from  the  Col  de  Tenda,  roughly  north  and  south, 
while  it  (also  with  one  exception,  in  the  Maritime  Alps)  forms 
the  actual  frontier  between  France,  on  the  W.,  and  Italy,  on  the 
E.  The  Little  St.  Bernard  Pass  seems  to  form,  at  first  sight, 
the  best  line  of  division,  for,  soon  after,  the  main  chain  bends 
gradually  towards  the  E.  through  the  range  of  Mont  Blanc.  But, 
in  common  parlance,  that  range,  containing,  as  it  does,  the  loftiest 
summit  in  the  Alps,  is  usually  reckoned  as  part  of  the  Western 
Alps.  If  we  include  it,  however,  in  that  division,  we  find  that, 
as  for  historical  reasons  its  N.E.  extremity  is  Swiss,  Switzerland 
(no  longer  France)  and  Italy  henceforward  are  the  political  owners 
of  the  chain.  To  add  to  our  perplexities,  we  further  discover 
that  if  we  fix  the  point  of  division  at  the  Great  St.  Bernard  Pass, 
E.  of  the  Mont  Blanc  chain,  and  not  far  from  the  spot  at  which 
the  main  chain  takes  a  decidedly  eastern  direction,  we  should  be 
obliged  to  cut  asunder  the  loftiest  and  best-known  range  of  the 
Alps,  the  Pennine  Alps.  This  clearly  cannot  be  done  without 
blurring  one  of  the  relatively  few  facts  as  to  the  Alps  of  which 
most  people  are  aware,  and  such  a  course  would  be  opposed  to 
the  reasons  of  practical  convenience,  which  are  the  sole  excuse 
for  making  any  divisions  at  all.  Hence  we  must  place  our  point 
of  division  further  to  the  E.  than  the  Great  St.  Bernard.  The 
best  spot  seems  to  be  at  the  Simplon  Pass  (6592  ft.),  which  is 
commonly  held  to  mark  the  eastern  extremity  of  the  Pennine 
Alps,  and  now  boasts  of  a  great  international  railway  line  that 
burrows  beneath  it,  while,  just  as  from  the  N.  extremity  of  the 
range  of  Mont  Blanc,  Switzerland  takes  the  place  of  France  on 
the  non-Italian  slope.  It  is  true  that  from  the  N,  end  of  the 
Mont  Blanc  chain  to  the  Simplon  a  great  independent  range, 
generally  called  the  Bernese  Alps  (though  parts  of  it  are  in  other 
Swiss  Cantons),  faces  us  on  the  other  side  of  the  deep-cut  Rhone 
valley.  But  that  valley  very  clearly  separates  the  Bernese  Alps 
from  the  Pennine  Alps,  while  the  junction  of  the  former  range 
with  the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps  takes  place  much  farther  to 


282     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  east  than  the  Simplon  Pass,  and  at  the  very  head  of  the  long 
Rhone  valley.  Hence,  all  things  considered,  the  Simplon  forms 
practically  the  most  convenient  line  of  division  between  the 
Western  and  the  Central  Alps. 

2.  The  Central  Alps  (from  the  Simplon  to  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  Pass). — Starting  from  the  Simplon  and  wandering 
eastwards,  which  is  the  next  great  pass  that  may  be  adopted  as 
the  point  of  division  between  the  Central  and  the  Eastern 
Alps  ?  Three  offer  themselves  at  once  to  our  consideration — 
the  Maloja  (5935  ft.),  the  Reschen  Scheideck  (4902  ft.,  some- 
times called  inaccurately  the  Malserheide),  and  the  Brenner 
(4495  ft.).  As  regards  the  first,  the  main  watershed  from  the 
Simplon  as  far  as  that  spot  is  perfectly  distinct,  while  Switzer- 
land and  Italy  are  still  the  political  rulers  of  the  two  slopes. 
But  the  great  practical  objection  to  the  adoption  of  the  Maloja 
is  that  it  would  throw  the  whole  Engadine  valley,  as  well  as 
its  loftiest  summits,  the  Bernina  range,  into  the  Eastern  Alps. 
Now  the  term  '  Eastern  Alps '  has  to  the  average  English 
reader  a  flavour  of  the  Tyrol,  and  the  Lower  Engadine  alone 
was  ever  Tyrolese  historically.  The  Brenner,  on  the  other 
hand,  forms  an  almost  ideal  line  of  division.  For  centuries 
the  main  means  of  communication  between  Germany  and  Italy 
and  one  of  the  best-marked  depressions  in  the  Alps,  it  cuts 
across  the  great  chain  at  a  spot  before  this  has  split  up  into 
several  parallel  ranges,  as  is  the  case  farther  east.  But,  to 
the  mind  of  the  present  writer,  the  Brenner  has  one  fatal 
defect,  looked  at  from  our  point  of  view — it  is  situated  to  the 
E.  of  most  of  the  highest  Tyrolese  peaks,  and  its  adoption 
would  force  us  to  include  in  the  Central  Alps  some  of  the  most 
important  ranges  of  the  Tyrol.  Hence  it  seems  to  the  present 
writer  that  our  choice  must  finally  fall  upon  the  Reschen 
Scheideck,  coupled  with  its  natural  continuation  to  the  N., 
the  Arlberg  Pass  (5912  ft.).  It  shares,  indeed,  with  the  Brenner 
the  disadvantage  that  the  main  watershed  between  it  and  the 
Bernina  Pass  is  ill-defined,  and  that  a  portion  (in  this  case, 
however,  a  very  small  portion)  of  the  Tyrol  is  thus  included 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  283 

in   the    Central    Alps.      On    the    other    hand,    the    Reschen 
Scheideck  lies  W.  of  most  of  the  great  Tyrolese  peaks,  which 
therefore  very  properly  fall  to  the  share  of  the   Eastern  Alps, 
while  the  deep-cut  upper  valley  (the  Vintschgau)  of  the  Adige 
(the  Eisack  valley,  down  which  runs  the   Brenner  route,   is  its 
tributary)    on    its   southern   slope  is   rightly  described  by  Mr. 
John  Ball  as    '  one   of  the   most   remarkable   features   in   the 
orography  of  the  Alps '  ;  thus  no  part  of  Swiss  territory  comes 
into  the  Eastern  Alps.     One  drawback  the  Reschen  Scheideck 
certainly    possesses    from    our    point   of  view,  but  is  not   the 
absolutely  ideal  a  will-o'-the-wisp?     If  we  follow  the  trough  of 
the  Adige   from  Mais  at  the  immediate  S.  foot  of  the  pass, 
we  find  that  the  mighty  Ortler  group,  comprising  the  culminat- 
ing points  of  the  Tyrolese  Alps,  has  most  inconsiderately  been 
placed  by  Nature  to  the  S.  and  W.  of  that  great  valley.    But  it  is 
obvious  that  the  principal  Tyrolese  peaks  ought  not  to  be  torn 
asunder  from  their  neighbours.      Hence  from  Mais,  at  the  S. 
foot  of  the  Reschen  Scheideck,  we  must  devise  a  purely  artificial 
line  of  division.     We  must  draw  our  practical  boundary  first 
to  the  head  of  the  Valtelline  or  the  upper  Adda  valley,  either 
over  the  old  historical  Umbrail  Pass,  or  over  that  of  the  Stelvio, 
which  became  well  known   only  after  it  obtained  its  carriage 
road  in  the  early  portion  of  the  nineteenth  century,   while  the 
Umbrail  had  to  wait  for  the  first  years  of  the  twentieth  before 
it  secured  the  same  boon  ;  the  choice  of  one  pass  or  the  other 
has,  however,  little  practical  importance,  for  if  the  routes  separate 
at  Mais,  they  rejoin  high  up  on  the  other  slope  of  the  Stelvio. 
From  Tirano,  near  the  head  of  the  Valtelline,  another  carriage 
road  leads  E.  over  the  low  and  well-marked  Aprica  Pass  (3875 
ft.)  to  the  Val  Camonica,  down  which  we  follow  the  course  of 
the  Oglio,  which  forms  the  Lake  of  Iseo,  to  near  Brescia,  which 
is  only  some  forty  miles  E.  of  Verona,  where  both  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  and  the  Brenner  routes  reach  the  Italian  plain. 

Thus,  according  to  our  division,  the  Central  Alps  are  wholly 
Swiss  and  Italian,  save  the  N.  slope  of  the  Silvretta  and 
Rhatikon  groups,  as  well  as  one  small  bit  W.  of  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  Pass,  and  another  from  that  pass  to  Mais  and  so  up 


284     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

to  the  Stelvio,  for   on   the   Umbrail   route   Switzerland  comes 
down  close  to  Mais. 

3.  The  Eastern  Alps  (from  the  Reschen  Scheideck  to  the 
Radstadter  Tauern). — The  line  of  division  to  the  W.  has  just 
been  discussed,  the  only  doubtful  point  being  the  choice 
between  the  Umbrail  and  the  Stelvio,  while  that  to  the  E., 
corresponding  with  the  E.  limit  of  the  chain  of  the  Alps  in 
general,  was  settled  in  Chapter  i.  Thus,  according  to  our 
scheme,  the  Eastern  Alps  are  wholly  Austrian  (including  the 
Trentino  on  the  S.  slope)  and  Italian,  with  the  sole  exception 
of  the  limestone  hills  of  Bavaria,  far  away  at  the  N.W.  angle 
of  the  region. 


B. — The  Principal  Groups  of  the  Alps 

Such  being  the  main  lines  that  mark  off,  not  merely  the  Alps 
from  other  ranges,  but  the  three  great  divisions  within  the 
Alps  themselves,  we  must  now  go  on  to  consider  the  various 
groups  which  can  be  distinguished  inside  each  of  the  three 
principal  divisions.  In  selecting  them  we  have  been  guided 
by  considerations  similar  to  those  which  have  prevailed  with 
us  in  fixing  the  limits  between  the  great  divisions,  though  it 
appears  best  to  speak  of  this  second  set  of  reasons  in  the  course 
of  our  study  of  the  twenty  groups  that  have  approved  them- 
selves to  us.  The  following  bare  list  of  twenty  groups,  and 
their  boundaries,  may  be  convenient  for  purposes  of  reference: — 

I— Western  Alps  (from  the  Col  de  Tenda  to  the  Simplon). 

1.  Maritime  Alps  (Col  de  Tenda  to  Col  de  I'Argentiere). 

2.  Cottian    Alps    (Col     de    I'Argentiere    to    the   Mont 

Cenis,  and  E.  of  the  Col  du  Galibier). 

3.  Dauphin^  Alps  (W.  of  the  Col  du  Galibier  as  well 

as  of  the  Guisane  and  upper  Durance  valleys). 

4.  Grraian   Alps  (from  the  Mont  Cenis  to  the  Col  de 

la  Seigne). 


'1 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  285 

5.  Chain  of  Mont  Blanc,  or  the  Western  Pennine  Alps 

(from  the  Col  de  la  Seigne  to  the  Col  Ferret). 

6.  Central  Pennine  Alps  (from  the  Col  Ferret  to  the 

St.  Theodule  Pass). 

7.  Eastern  Pennine  Alps  (St.  Theodule  to  the  Simplon). 

II.— Central    Alps    (from    the    Simplon    to    the    Reschen 
Scheideck  Pass  and  the  Stelvio). 

8.  Bernese  Alps  (from  the  Lake  of  Geneva  to  the  Lake 

of  Lucerne,  N.  of  the  Rhone  valley  and  of  the 
Furka  Pass,  and  W.  of  the  Reuss  valley). 

9.  Lepontine  Alps  (from  the  Simplon  to  the  Spliigen 

Pass,  S.  of  the  Furka  and  Oberalp  Passes). 

10.  The  Range  of  the  Todi  (from  the  Oberalp  Pass  to 

the  Klausen  Pass  and  the  Lake  of  Walenstadt). 

11.  The   Alps   of    North-East   Switzerland    (N.    of  the 

Klausen  Pass  and  the  Lake  of  Walenstadt). 

12.  Bernina    Alps    (from    the    Maloja   to   the   Reschen 

Scheideck  and  the  Stelvio,  N.  of  the  Valtelline 
and  E.  of  the  Val  Bregaglia  and  the  Engadine). 

13.  Alhula  Group  (from  the  Spliigen  to  the  Fliiela  Pass 

and  the  Maloja). 

14.  Silvretta  and  Rhatikon  Group  (from  the  Fliiela  to 

the  Reschen  Scheideck  and  the  Arlberg  Pass). 

III.— Eastern  Alps  (from   the  Reschen  Scheideck  and  the 
Stelvio  to  the  Radstadter  Tauern). 

15.  The  Alps  of  Bavaria,  the  Vorarlberg,  and  Salzburg 

(N.  of  the  Arlberg  Pass,  Innsbruck,  the  Pinzgau, 
and  the  Enns  valley). 

16.  Ortler,    Oetzthal,    and    Stubai    Ranges    (from    the 

Reschen  Scheideck  and  the  Stelvio  to  the  Brenner 
Pass,  E.  and  S.  of  the  Inn  valley,  and  N.  of  the 
Tonale  and  Aprica  Passes). 

17.  Lombard  Alps  (from  the  Lake  of  Como  to  near  Tirano 

in  the  Adige  valley,  S.  of  the  Valtelline  and  of  the 
Tonale  and  Aprica  Passes). 


286     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

1 8.  Central  Tyrolese  Alps  (from  the  Brenner  Pass  to  the 

Radstadter  Tauern,  N.  of  the  Pusterthal  and  the 
upper  Drave  valley,  and  S.  of  the  Pinzgau  and  the 
Enns  valley). 

19.  The  Dolomites   of  South  Tyrol   (from  the   Brenner 

route  to  the  Monte  Croce  Pass,  S.  of  the 
Pusterthal). 

20.  South-Eastern  Alps  (E.  of  the  Monte  Croce  Pass,  and 

S.  of  the  upper  Drave  valley). 

Now  each  of  these  twenty  groups  differs  from  the  other, 
like  stars  both  in  glory  and  in  attractiveness.  Each  has  its 
own  set  of  admirers,  and  perhaps  of  detractors  also.  Ideally 
each  should  be  visited  in  order  to  test  its  merits  or  drawbacks, 
though  not  many  Alpine  travellers  can  attain  this  ideal.  They 
will  prefer  to  limit  their  energies  to  a  few  groups  which  they 
know  well,  perhaps  here  and  there  trying  a  new  group  by  way 
of  change.  Sometimes  this  flirting  has  good  results,  some- 
times it  simply  confirms  one's  affection  for  old  friends.  Yet  it 
may  happen  that  a  man  may  long  admire  respectfully  a  certain 
range  on  the  horizon,  before  coming  to  know  it  better  and  then 
really  liking  it.  Another  new  friend  may  gain  one's  love  at 
once,  albeit  it  may  lack  the  severe  grandeur  of  its  neighbours, 
while  in  another  case  the  way  to  one's  innermost  heart  may 
be  won  slowly,  though  steadily.  Rarely  will  any  two  Alpine 
travellers  be  completely  in  agreement  as  to  their  favourite 
ranges,  though  they  may  agree  as  to  a  some  one  range.  Tastes 
differ  here,  as  in  other  departments  of  life.  The  present 
writer  knows  English  climbers  who  scorn  the  Tyrol,  and  others 
who  despise  the  Central  Alps — in  either  case  a  nearer  acquaint- 
ance might  alter  their  ideas  and  prejudices.  Luckily  the  Alps 
are  wide  enough  to  shelter  men  of  very  varying  opinions  as  to 
these  matters  of  personal  preference.  So  let  us  now  go  on 
to  point  out  the  really  characteristic  features  of  our  twenty 
groups,  laying  stress  in  each  case  on  its  merits,  and  passing 
lightly  over  its  drawbacks. 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  287 

I, — Western  Alps 

I.  Maritime  Alps. — Most  people  probably  believe  that  the 
Maritime  Alps  are  the  hills  that  rise  just  back  of  Mentone, 
Nice,  and  Cannes.  Herein  they  agree  with  the  Romans  of  old, 
to  whom  the  '  Alpis  Maritima  '  was  the  track  along  the  sea-coast 
from  Genoa  to  Marseilles,  that  attains  its  highest  point  at  Turbie, 
(1490  ft.),  above  Monte  Carlo.  Yet,  if  any  of  these  hills  be 
mounted,  or  even  if  the  Lerins  Islands,  opposite  Cannes,  be 
visited,  the  horizon  is  seen  to  be  bounded  to  the  N.  by  a  long  line 
of  rocky  and  snowy  summits.  These  are  the  true  Maritime  Alps, 
and  ever  look  down  contemptuously  on  the  tiny  foot-hills  which 
often  usurp  their  name.  For  once  the  title  of  a  French 
Department  is  clear  and  unmistakable,  as  that  of  the  'Alpes 
Maritimes '  stretches  from  Nice  and  Cannes  northwards  nearly 
to  Barcelonnette  in  the  Ubaye  valley,  for  since  i860,  when  the 
county  of  Nice  was  given  up  by  the  House  of  Savoy  to  France, 
the  real  Maritime  Alps  divide  France  and  Italy,  the  older 
boundaries  of  the  Var  and  of  Turbie  being  thus  quite  super- 
seded. Besides,  if  we  consider  the  question  carefully,  we  see 
that  the  foot-hills  above  the  '  Littoral '  or  the  '  Cote  d'Azur ' 
are  in  no  sense  'Alps.'  They  are  most  certainly,  stony  and 
dried  up  as  they  are,  not  '  Alps '  in  the  sense  of  rich  and 
fertile  Alpine  pastures.  Still  less  are  they  '  Alps '  if  we  accept 
the  definition  given  in  our  very  first  chapter,  that  '  Alps '  are 
mountains  which  are  lofty  enough  to  bear  considerable  masses 
of  perpetual  snow.  In  this,  the  true  sense,  the  Maritime  Alps 
rise  far  back  of  the  sea-coast.  They  start  from  the  Col  de 
Tenda  (6145  ft.),  that  leads  from  Cuneo  to  Ventimiglia,  and 
are  most  conveniently  limited  on  the  N.  by  the  Col  de 
TArgentiere  (6545  ft.),  which  connects  Cuneo  with  Barcelon- 
nette. The  Roja  torrent  descends  direct  from  the  Col  de 
Tenda  to  the  sea,  but  for  historical  reasons,  enumerated  in 
Chapter  vi.,  is  Italian  throughout,  save  in  its  middle  reach. 
At  the  S.  foot  of  the  Col  de  Tenda  and  at  the  head-waters  of 
the  Roja  is  the  old  Benedictine  convent  of  San  Dalmazzo  di 
Tenda,  now  a  charming  Italian  summer-resort.     On  the  French 


288     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

slope  of  the  chain  the  Alpine  hamlet  of  St.  Martin  Vesubie 
(formerly  called  St.  Martin  Lantosque)  is  the  favourite  resort 
in  summer  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  'Littoral.'  It  is  situated 
near  the  head  of  the  Vesubie  valley,  an  affluent  of  the  Var, 
while  an  easy  mule  pass  leads  from  it  to  the  Baths  of  Valdieri, 
on  the  Italian  slope  of  the  chain,  and  also  much  frequented  in 
the  heats  of  summer.  These  Baths  (some  way  distant  from  the 
town  of  the  same  name)  are  at  the  head  of  the  Gesso  valley, 
and  form  the  centre  of  the  king  of  Italy's  hunting  preserves, 
so  that  many  convenient  mule  paths  have  been  constructed  in 
the  neighbourhood,  and  even  over  to  the  glens  on  the  other 
slope,  which  in  i860  were  not  ceded,  for  reasons  of  the  chase, 
to  France.  The  Baths  lie  between  two  of  the  highest  summits 
of  the  Maritime  Alps,  the  Punta  dell'  Argentera  (10,794  ft.,  with 
its  prolongation,  the  Monte  Stella,  or  Gelas  di  Lourousa, 
10,696  ft.)  and  the  Monte  Matto  (10,128  ft.).  To  the  N.E.  of 
St.  Martin  Vesubie  rise  two  other  lofty  peaks,  the  Cima  dei 
Gelas  (10,286  ft.)  and  the  Mont  Clapier  (9994  ft.),  on  the  N. 
slope  of  which  are  the  principal  glaciers  of  the  region,  small, 
but  crevassed,  like  their  comrades  elsewhere.  All  these  are 
wholly  Italian.  The  Mont  Tinibras  (9948  ft.)  is  farther  to 
the  N.  and  on  the  watershed  and  political  frontier,  but  the 
two  great  belvederes  on  the  French  side,  the  Mont  Pelat 
(10,017  ft.)  and  the  Mont  Monnier  (9246  ft.),  are  wholly  in 
France,  though  the  Besimauda  (7887  ft.),  near  the  Col  de 
Tenda,  is  wholly  in  Italy.  Now  the  characteristic  feature  of  the 
Maritime  Alps  is  the  amazing  panorama  that  is  gained  from 
most  of  these  peaks,  for  the  eye  lights  on  the  level  surface  of 
the  Mediterranean,  in  one  direction,  and  on  Monte  Viso,  Mont 
Blanc,  Monte  Rosa,  and  even  the  Matterhorn,  in  the  other. 
From  no  other  snow-covered  peaks  in  the  Alps  is  the  Middle  Sea 
visible,  so  that  our  range  rejoices  in  an  advantage  which  cannot 
possibly  be  disputed  by  any  of  its  rivals.  By  a  quaint  freak  of 
fortune  the  Maritimes  were  the  first  snow-covered  peaks  of  the 
Alps  that  ever  met  the  gaze  of  the  present  writer.  He  was 
spending  the  winter  (1864-5)  ^^  Cannes  (then  but  little  known), 
and  often  made  excursions  to  the  Lerins  Islands,  from  which 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  289 

they  are  well  seen,  though  at  the  time  he  thought  more  of  local 
history  than  of  Alpine  summits.  But  in  1S79  he  became  one 
of  the  chief  explorers  of  these  neglected  peaks.  Envious  mists 
hid  the  sea  when  he  stood  on  the  Argentera  and  on  the  Monnier, 
But  these  disappointments  were  made  up  for  a  short  time  later, 
when,  on  two  successive  days,  from  the  tops  of  the  Gelas  and 
the  Clapier,  the  Mediterranean  lay  unrolled  before  him  and 
his  two  Oberland  guides,  who  had  never  seen  it  before.  The 
Esterels,  the  Lerins  Islands,  the  Bay  of  La  Napoule,  the  pro- 
montory of  Antibes  were  all  identified,  while  on  the  far  horizon 
floated  a  dim  vision  of  Corsica.  Nor  was  this  all,  for,  swimming 
high  above  the  misty  Lombard  plain,  we  saw  many  old  friends 
in  the  Alps,  from  the  IMonte  Viso  right  round  to  Monte  Rosa, 
including  Mont  Blanc,  the  Matterhorn,  the  Weisshorn,  etc.,  all 
clearly  standing  out  against  the  azure  sky.  We  greeted,  too,  the 
Argentera,  the  first  ascent  of  which  we  had  made  a  few  days 
previously,  though  very  unexpectedly,  as  we  were  under  the 
erroneous  impression  that  it  had  been  visited  previously.  Then 
we  were  enveloped  in  mist,  but  now  we  saw  the  whole  ridge, 
and  rejoiced  all  the  more  in  our  conquest  of  the  culminating 
point  of  the  region.  Four  years  later  the  present  writer,  with 
a  friend,  enjoyed  an  even  more  wonderful  view  of  the  sea  from 
the  Besimauda,  a  low  point  (7887  ft.)  to  the  N.E.  of  the  Col  de 
Tenda,  and  so  not  strictly  within  the  Maritime  Alps,  as  we  have 
limited  them  in  these  pages.  We  started  for  the  ascent  from 
Limone  after  lunch  on  Midsummer's  Eve,  a  blazing  hot  day, 
and  were  nearly  cooked  before  we  gained  the  gentian-starred 
upper  pastures.  Then  a  cool  north  breeze  met  us,  and  also  a 
view  that  became  finer  and  finer  as  we  walked  over  them  to  the 
summit.  There  our  eyes  were  more  than  sated  by  the  spectacle 
of  the  whole  Alpine  chain  from  the  Viso  to  the  Monte  della 
Disgrazia  (near  the  Engadine),  forming  a  great  circle  that  served 
as  a  rampart  to  the  Lombard  plain.  Peak  after  peak  could  easily 
be  identified  (though  Mont  Blanc  itself  was  invisible),  while  the 
sight  of  the  minor  ridges  and  spurs  breaking  down  into  the  plain 
was  an  object-lesson  in  physical  geography.  Turning  round, 
we  had  a  glimpse,  through  a  break  in  the  hills,  of  Genoa  and 
T 


4 

290     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

its  gulf,  glittering  in  the  sun's  rays.  It  was  a  scene  never  to 
be  forgotten.  We  descended  to  sleep  that  night  at  the  old 
secularised  Carthusian  convent  of  Pesio,  embowered  amid  its 
chestnuts.  But,  though  the  writer  was  beguiled  into  spending 
the  whole  of  the  following  September  in  that  lovely  spot,  he 
never  ventured  to  disturb  that  ineffaceable  impression  by  another 
visit  to  the  Besimauda.  He  was  content  to  sit  in  the  cloisters 
(half  a  mile  in  extent,  it  is  said),  from  a  neighbouring  chapel  to 
marvel  at  the  daily  vision  of  Monte  Rosa,  the  Matterhorn,  and 
the  Weisshorn,  shining  aloft,  across  the  dim  plain  and  the  chest- 
nuts nearer  by,  against  a  perfect  sky.  It  is  a  thousand  pities 
that  political  jealousies  between  France  and  Italy  render  it 
difficult  for  a  traveller  to  explore  the  higher  regions  of  the 
Maritime  Alps,  though  perhaps  these  mutual  suspicions  have  now 
calmed  down  a  little. 

2.  Cottian  Alps. — King  Cottius  would  probably  be  more  sur- 
prised than  anybody  else  to  learn  that  his  name  has  been  given  ""^ 
to  one  of  the  most  considerable  groups  of  the  Alps,  though 
his  kingdom,  first  independent,  then  annexed  by  Augustus,  did 
sit  astride  of  the  central  portion  of  what  are  now  called  the 
'Cottian  Alps.'  It  is  perhaps  even  more  surprising  that  this 
district  of  the  Alps  has  never  been  named  after  Hannibal,  for, 
with  the  exceptions  of  the  Little  St.  Bernard  and  the  Col  de  la 
Seigne,  all  the  passes  over  which  divers  writers  have  taken  him 
cross  the  ridge  of  the  Cottian  Alps. 

In  our  division  of  the  Alpine  chain  the  Cottian  Alps  stretch 
from  the  Col  de  I'Argentiere  on  the  S.  to  the  Mont  Cenis  Pass 
(6893  ft.),  on  the  N.  The  Romans,  however,  gave  the  name 
of  'Alpis  Cottia'  to  neither  of  these  passes,  but  to  the  Mont 
Genevre  that  lies  midway  between  them,  which,  as  we  have 
tried  to  show  in  Chapter  viii.,  is  the  great  Historical  Pass  of 
the  Western  Alps.  The  Argentiere,  though  certainly  crossed 
in  Roman  times,  does  not  appear  much  in  history  till  late  in 
the  fourteenth  century,  and  first  became  widely  known  when 
Francis  i.  crossed  it  in  15 15.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Mont 
Cenis  came  into  prominence  in  Carolingian  times,  for  it  is  not 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  291 

known  to  have  been  crossed  earlier  than  the  middle  of  the 
eighth  century  of  our  era,  though  a  little  later  it  became  the 
most  fashionable  pass  in  the  Western  Alps,  and  the  usual  route 
from  France  to  Italy. 

A  glance  at  the  map  shows  that  the  Cottian  Alps  comprise  a 
very  long  section  of  the  main  ridge  of  the  Alps.  Hence  its 
several  districts  differ  from  each  other  in  many  ways.  Perhaps 
the  best  marked  characteristic  feature  of  the  Cottians  is  that  a 
very  considerable  stretch  has  no  permanent  ice  or  snow  upon  it. 
There  are  a  few  small  glaciers  at  the  head  of  the  Ubaye  valley 
which  is  thrust  up,  on  the  French  side  of  the  chain,  into  the 
chain  nearly  as  far  as  Monte  Viso,  while  that  famous  peak  itself 
(12,609  ft.),  the  monarch  of  the  Cottians  (first  conquered  in  1861 
by  two  Englishmen),  has  one  tiny  glacier  of  its  own,  which, 
however,  can  boast  of  being  the  true  source  of  the  Po.  It  is 
only  in  the  most  northerly  portion  of  the  range  that  glaciers 
of  any  size  appear,  and  even  then  their  extent  is  not  really 
very  great.  It  is  hard  to  explain  this  phenomenon,  since  the 
Maritimes  farther  S.  have  glaciers,  while  the  mighty  Dauphine 
Alps,  strictly  forming  part  of  the  Cottians,  though  more  con- 
veniently treated  as  a  separate  group,  have  very  extensive  snow- 
fields,  so  that  it  is  not  the  southern  position  of  the  Cottians 
which  explains  this  singularity.  One  result  of  this  comparatively 
snowless  character  of  the  range  has  been  to  make  it,  if  not 
'the  cockpit  of  Europe'  (like  Belgium),  certainly  the  chief 
battlefield  between  France  (the  heir  of  the  Dauphins)  and  the 
House  of  Savoy,  a  prolonged  struggle  that  we  sketched  above 
in  Chapter  vii.  Among  the  most  interesting  and  remarkable 
campaigns  that  were  waged  in  these  regions  was  that  carried 
out  by  Catinat  in  1692.  Almost  every  pass  across  the  main 
ridge  can  easily  be  forced  by  a  strong  band  of  soldiers,  so 
that  well-nigh  every  pass  has  its  own  local  military  history. 

Another  feature  of  our  range  is  that  the  higher  summits  are 
inclined  to  rise  close  to,  but  just  off  the  main  divide.  Thus 
the  Aiguille  de  Chambeyron  (11,155  ft.),  and  Monte  Viso,  and 
Rochebrune  (10,906  ft.);  though  farther  north  this  curious  shy- 
ness passes  away,  and  we  find  the  normal  arrangement  according 


292     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

to  which  the  higher  summits  rise  on  the  actual  watershed.  Save 
Monte  Viso  and  its  spurs,  few  peaks  of  the  Cottians  attain  a 
height  of  over  ii,ooo  ft.,  the  average  altitude  being  greater  than 
in  the  case  of  the  Maritimes,  but  far  inferior  to  that  of  the  great 
mass  of  the  Dauphine  Alps.  Even  so,  the  summits  that  rank 
next  after  the  Viso  are  collected  together,  so  to  speak,  either  in 
the  Chambeyron  group,  at  the  head  of  the  Ubaye  valley,  or 
in  the  Scolette  and  Ambin  groups,  to  the  S.W.  of  the  Mont 
Cenis.  Probably  it  is  the  comparative  isolation  of  Monte 
Viso  that  gave  rise  to  exaggerated  ideas  as  to  its  height  (really 
but  12,609  ft.),  and  won  for  it  the  name  of  the  'visible  peak,' 
for  it  seems  to  tower  up  almost  alone  when  seen  from  the 
Piedmontese  plain.  Hence  we  are  not  astonished  to  find  that 
it  is  the  only  great  Alpine  peak  which  is  noticed  by  the  writers 
of  classical  antiquity.  The  pines,  as  well  as  the  wild  boars, 
both  sung  by  Virgil,  have  long  since  disappeared,  but  it  is 
from  the  Viso  that  the  infant  Po  still  flows,  as  Chaucer  told 
us  centuries  ago : 

'  Of  Saluces  the  centre, 
And  of  Mount  Vesulus  in  special, 
Wher  as  the  Poo  out  of  a  welle  smal 
Taketh  his  firste  springyng  and  his  sours.' 

Of  course  the  Po  is  the  mightiest  river  of  Piedmont,  so  that 
its  source  attracted  interest  at  a  very  early  date.  But  the  Po 
is  not  the  only  river  of  importance  that  rises  in  our  region.  On 
the  Italian  side  we  have  the  Stura,  the  Chisone,  and  the  Dora 
Riparia,  all  affluents  of  the  Po,  while  on  the  French  side  are  the 
Durance  itself  (with  its  feeders,  the  Guil  and  the  Ubaye),  and 
the  Arc,  two  of  the  principal  affluents  of  the  Rhone,  directly  or 
through  the  Isere  (which  rises  in  the  Graians). 

If  we  turn  from  the  actual  range  itself  to  its  inhabitants, 
several  notable  features  at  once  strike  us.  To  this  day,  save 
on  the  E.  slope  of  a  portion  of  its  most  southerly  district,  French 
(in  one  dialect  or  the  other)  is  the  one  tongue  that  is  commonly 
spoken  in  all  parts  of  the  Cottians,  whether  now  politically 
French  or  Itahan.     This  circumstance  is  due  to  the  fact  that 


NTK   VISO   (COTTIAN    ALPS)    FROM    THE    NORTH    EAST 


MONTE 


J 


■I 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  293 

the  whole  region  was,  till  17 13,  part  of  Dauphine  (see  Chapter 
VII.),  and  therefore  naturally  attracted  towards  the  French  form 
of  the  Romance  tongue.  Of  course,  officially,  Italian  is  used  on 
the  slope,  politically  Italian,  but  the  people  themselves  employ 
a  rough  dialect  that  certainly  resembles  French  rather  than  Pied- 
montese.  A  further  result  of  the  same  long  connection  with 
Dauphine  is  the  settlement  in  the  Alpine  valleys,  S.W.  of  Turin, 
of  the  'Vaudois'  or  'Waldensians.'  It  is  most  probable  that  this 
people  formed  a  colony  from  Dauphine  which  pressed  over  the 
Alps,  leaving  on  the  other  slope  certain  members,  who  still  exist, 
miserably,  in  the  glens  at  the  head  of  the  Durance  valley.  It  is 
possible  that  the  forebears  of  the  Vaudois  did  not  come  direct 
from  Dauphine,  but  were  certain  Dauphinois  who  had  settled 
in  Lombardy  and  were  pressed  backwards  into  the  valleys  now 
occupied  by  the  Vaudois.  Their  special  doctrines  were  taken 
from  Peter  Waldo,  of  Lyons,  who  put  them  forth  about  11 77, 
but,  whatever  may  be  thought  of  them,  they  disappeared  in  1532 
and  157 1,  when  the  Calvinism  of  Geneva  was  formally  adopted 
in  their  place  (Genevese  ministers  replacing  the  old  '  barbes ' 
in  1630),  so  that  nowadays  the  Vaudois  are  more  strictly 
Calvinist  than  are  the  Genevese  themselves. 

In  the  Cottians  are  also  two  of  the  earliest  tunnels,  pierced 
beneath  mountain  passes.  One  was  excavated  between  1478 
and  1480  beneath  the  Col  de  la  Traversette,  at  the  N.  foot  of 
Monte  Viso,  in  order  that  salt  from  Provence  might  be  bartered 
against  rice  and  oil  from  Italy.  The  other  is  that  properly  called 
the  Frejus  Tunnel  (as  it  passes  beneath  the  pass  of  that  name), 
and  wrongly  named  the  Mont  Cenis  Tunnel  (as  it  is  seventeen 
miles  to  the  W.  of  that  pass),  the  first  of  the  great  tunnels 
through  the  Alps,  and  opened  for  traffic  in  1871. 

3.  Dauphin^  Alps.  —  Really  and  truly  the  Dauphine 
Alps  form  part  of  the  great  Cottian  range,  but  as  the  highest 
portion  (often  called  the  Pelvoux  group,  from  the  peak  that 
was  formerly  the  best  known,  though  not  its  highest  summit)  is 
curiously  isolated,  and  is  connected  with  the  main  mass  of  the 
Cottians  only  by  the  isthmus  of  the  Col  du  Lautaret  (6808  ft., 


'"X 


294     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

a  paradise  for  botanists),  they  are  usually  considered  to  form  a 
district  to  themselves.  For  the  sake  of  practical  convenience 
other  minor  ranges  to  the  N.,  on  or  near  the  frontier  of  Dauphine 
and  Savoy  (so  the  Aiguilles  d'Arves,  11,529  ft.,  and  the 
Grandes  Rousses,  11,395  f^.),  are  commonly  joined  with  the 
Pelvoux  group  under  the  general  name  of  the  '  Dauphine  Alps ' 
— more  properly  these  should  be  called  the  '  Central  Dauphine 
Alps,'  in  order  to  distinguish  them  from  the  Dauphine  slope  of 
the  main  range  of  the  Cottians,  to  the  E.,  and  from  the  lower 
ranges  of  the  Vercors,  the  Royannais,  the  Devoluy,  etc.,  to  the 
W.  and  S.W.  The  exact  limit  between  our  group  and  the 
Cottians  is  thus  best  placed  at  the  Col  du  Galibier  (8721  ft.), 
over  which  runs  the  second  highest  carriage  road  in  the  Alps 
(that  over  the  Stelvio,  9055  ft.,  is  rather  higher),  that  leads 
from  St.  Michel  de  Maurienne  past  the  charmingly  situated 
hamlet  of  Valloire  to  the  summit  plain  of  the  Col  du  Lautaret 
itself. 

Now  the  name  '  Dauphine  '  used,  in  former  years,  to  call  up  the 
ideas  of  dirty  inns  and  countless  stones.  Within  the  last 
twenty  years  the  inns  at  all  the  spots  likely  to  be  most  visited  by 
travellers  have  been  vastly  improved,  and  are  run  either  by 
Swiss  landlords  (for  are  not  the  Chamonix  men  who  manage 
them  'Swiss 'from  the  hotel  point  of  view?)  or  by  local  men 
who  have  become  aware  of  the  requirements  of  modern  travellers, 
and  do  their  best  to  meet  them.  After  all,  the  old  inns  were 
not  so  terrible  as  depicted,  or  rather  they  were  Hke  those  then 
found  everywhere  in  the  French  and  Italian  Alps,  not  being,  by 
any  means,  exceptional.  But,  as  it  happened,  the  early  ex- 
plorers were  naturally  drawn  to  the  Pelvoux  group,  and  im- 
agined that  the  inns  there  were  worse  than  anywhere  else.  The 
present  writer  first  visited  the  district  in  June,  1870,  just 
before  the  outbreak  of  the  great  war,  and  therefore  had  a  pro- 
longed experience  of  these  unreformed  inns.  But  even  in  the 
seventies  he  found  much  worse  inns  in  other  parts  of  the 
Alpine  chain  than  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  and,  if  pressed,  could 
still  indicate  certain  hostelries  elsewhere  that  have  changed  but 
little  since  those  days. 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  295 

As  to  the  stones,  the  accusation  remains  true,  for  their 
number  has  increased,  if  anything,  through  the  gradual  wearing 
away  of  the  peaks,  which  discharge  their  rubbish  into  the 
valleys  below  them.  Yet  the  valleys  which  so  shock  travellers 
in  this  part  of  the  Alps  are  by  no  means  the  worst  in  the  dis- 
trict, for  whoever  desires  to  see  what  a  real  stony  region  is 
should  visit  the  Devoluy  to  the  S.W.  of  the  main  group,  and  he 
will  come  back  a  wiser  and  more  cheerful  man  to  the  Veneon 
valley,  that  forms  the  heart  of  the  Dauphine  Alps.  Besides  the 
stones,  the  mountain  slopes  in  the  Alpine  valleys  of  Dauphine 
have  a  bad  habit  of  ending  in  high  cliffs,  more  or  less  steep, 
often  overhanging,  so  that  long  ago  it  was  laid  down  by  a  high 
authority  (and  the  present  writer  has  often  proved  the  truth  of 
the  remark)  that  in  this  region  a  new  pass  was  not  completed 
till  one  had  actually  reached  the  stream  in  the  valley. 

In  point  of  height  the  Dauphine  Alps  rank  very  high.  Their 
loftiest  peak,  the  Pointe  des  Ecrins  (conquered  first  by  an 
EngUsh  party  in  1864),  attains  13,462  ft.,  so  that  it  is  the 
highest  summit  that  rises  S.  of  the  Mont  Blanc  chain.  It  is  but 
207  ft.  lower  than  the  Jungfrau  and  6  ft.  lower  than  the  Monch, 
though  76  ft.  higher  than  the  Gross  Schreckhorn,  to  name  three 
peaks  better  known  to  travellers.  Further,  save  a  few  peaks  in 
the  Mont  Blanc  chain,  the  Pennines,  and  the  Bernese  Oberland, 
it  is  without  a  rival  in  the  Alps ;  for  Piz  Bernina  is  rather 
lower  (13,304  ft.),  and  the  Ortler,  the  culminating  point  of  the 
Eastern  Alps,  considerably  lower  (12,802  ft.).  Then,  too,  the 
Ecrins  is  not,  like  Monte  Viso,  an  isolated  summit,  for  it  is 
closely  pursued  by  its  neighbours  the  Meije  (13,081  ft.),  the  Aile- 
froide  (12,989  ft.),  and  the  Mont  Pelvoux  (12,973  ft-),  so  that 
it  was  not  till  the  early  sixties  that  it  was  clearly  distinguished 
from  its  neighbours  and  assigned  the  proud  position  that  had 
always  rightly  belonged  to  it. 

Another  very  marked  feature  of  this  district  is  the  extra- 
ordinary fashion  in  which  the  very  numerous  lateral  ridges  are 
crowded  together,  so  that,  quite  apart  from  the  main  horseshoe, 
they  are  crowned  by  a  great  multitude  of  peaks.  This  squeez- 
ing together  as  if  by  an  hydraulic  press  has  one  great  advantage 


296     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

for  climbers — these  summits  can  mostly  be  reached  in  a  day's 
excursion  from  one's  headquarters  in  the  valley,  thus  avoiding 
the  necessity  of  sleeping  out.  Hence  the  desolate  hamlet  of 
La  Berarde  (5702  ft.),  situated  in  the  centre  of  the  great  horse- 
shoe formed  by  the  main  mass,  and  just  where  streams  unite 
from  two  of  the  principal  Alpine  glens,  is  one  of  the  finest 
mountaineering  headquarters  in  the  Alps — at  any  rate  as 
regards  the  number  of  peaks  and  passes  to  be  visited  thence. 
But,  thanks  in  great  measure  to  the  former  fiery  energy  of  the 
present  writer,  virgin  peaks  around  La  Berarde  have  ceased  to 
exist,  though  in  the  seventies  and  even  in  the  early  eighties  one 
had  simply  to  decide  every  morning  in  what  direction  one  should 
turn  one's  steps,  for  on  every  side  unsealed  peaks  awaited  their 
conqueror.  The  writer's  Grenoble  friends  used  to  complain  to 
him  that  the  journey  by  diligence  and  on  foot  from  Grenoble  to 
La  Berarde  (now  rendered  much  easier)  was  so  long  that  they 
really  could  not  undertake  it.  His  answer  was  that  he  did  not 
consider  the  journey  from  Oxford  to  La  Berarde  too  long. 
Hence,  when  these  friends  really  did  arrive  at  La  Berarde,  they 
found  a  forest  of  stone  men  on  all  the  neighbouring  summits, 
built  in  the  course  of  many  happy  summers  by  the  writer  and 
his  two  faithful  Oberland  guides. 

The  views,  too,  offered  by  the  higher  summits  of  the  region 
are  most  magnificent,  and  that  not  merely  towards  IMonte  Viso 
and  the  Pennines,  which  are  always  visible  in  fine  weather. 
One  of  the  most  striking  sights  ever  witnessed  by  the  present 
writer  was  from  a  high  bivouac  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Pelvoux, 
when,  as  daylight  vanished,  the  eye  ranged  over  many  ridges, 
the  crest  being  in  each  case  picked  out  by  the  light,  though  the 
slope  was  enshrouded  in  darkness,  these  ridges  fading  away, 
little  by  little,  towards  the  plains  of  Provence,  and  presenting 
a  marvellous  series  of  silhouettes. 

To  English  readers  the  Dauphine  Alps  are  especially  interest- 
ing because,  while  J.  D.  Forbes  (the  first  great  British  mountain 
explorer)  crossed  several  of  their  glacier  passes  as  far  back  as 
1 841,  almost  all  the  other  high  summits  and  passes  have  been 
first    climbed   by  English    mountaineers,  if  the  writer  (a  New 


I 


I 


THE   MEIJK  (DAUPHINE   ALPS)   FROM   THE   SOUTH 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  297 

Yorker  by  birth)  may  be  reckoned  among  English  cHmbers. 
The  great  exception  was  the  Meije,  which,  in  1877,  fell  by  a  kind 
of  accident  to  a  young  Frenchman,  who  was  a  chamois  hunter 
rather  than  a  peak  hunter. 

The  Alpine  historian,  too,  finds  the  Dauphine  region  very 
attractive.  In  it  rises  that  singular  summit  (some  36  miles 
S.  of  Grenoble)  of  the  Mont  Aiguille  (6880  ft.),  which  was 
ascended  as  far  back  as  1492  by  Antoine  de  Ville  and  his  party, 
aided  by  ladders,  etc.,  as  we  have  described  in  Chapter  ix. 
Five  of  the  great  glacier  passes  were  known  as  early  as  1673, 
while  the  district  was  carefully  mapped  by  Bourcet  between 
1749  and  1754,  so  that  it  was  perhaps  the  first  Alpine  region  to 
be  shown  in  detail  (and  astonishingly  accurate  detail,  too)  on  a 
map.  Yet  it  did  not  attract  much  notice  for  long,  really  not 
till  after  i860,  though  the  French  map  surveyors  and  a  French 
botanist,  Monsieur  Victor  Puiseux,  visited  the  two  loftiest  points 
of  the  Pelvoux  in  1830  and  1848  respectively,  while  two  chamois 
hunters,  during  the  chase,  really  attained  in  1839  the  Central 
Aiguille  d'Arves,  their  rather  fantastic  narrative  being  fully  con- 
firmed by  the  discovery  near  the  top  in  1876  of  a  coin  left  by 
them,  albeit  the  discoverer  had  then  no  knowledge  of  their 
expedition. 

Let  us  recall,  too,  the  memory  of  Deodat  de  Gratet,  Marquis 
de  Dolomieu  (1750-1801),  after  whose  famous  geological  journey 
of  1789  the  Dolomites  of  South  Tyrol  were  named,  though  he 
seems  to  have  paid  no  attention  to  the  peaks  composed  of 
similar  rock  that  rise  in  the  Vercors,  the  Royannais,  and  the 
Devoluy,  all  to  the  S.W.  of  Grenoble,  while  his  own  estate  of 
Dolomieu  is  some  way  N.W.  of  that  city. 

4.  Graian  Alps.— The  Graian  Alps  resemble  the  Cottian 
Alps  in  several  respects.  In  both  groups  we  find  a  long  back- 
bone running  roughly  from  S.  to  N.,  while  on  the  W.  a  kind 
of  rib  or  isthmus  connects  this  central  spine  with  a  lofty 
half-insulated  group,  called  the  Dauphine  Alps  in  the  case  of 
the  Cottians  and  the  Western  Graians  in  that  of  the  Graians. 
But  the  Graians,  unlike  the  Cottians,  have  a  second  curiously 


298     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 


I 


similar  isolated  group,  also  connected  with  the  main  mass  by 
a  kind  of  isthmus,  and  called  the  Eastern  Graians.  In  short, 
the  Graians  are  more  symmetrically  built  than  the  Cottians, 
comprising  what  are  practically  three  separate  ranges,  as  against 
the  two  of  which  the  Cottians  can  boast. 

The  Central  Graians,  or  the  great  backbone,  like  the  Cottians, 
runs  in  nearly,  but  not  quite,  a  straight  line,  the  bend  towards 
the  N.E.,  noticeable  in  the  N.  portion  of  the  Cottians,  being,  as  it 
were,  balanced  by  the  bend  towards  the  N.W.  that  strikes  the 
eye  at  once  on  examining  a  map  of  the  N.  half  of  the  Central 
Graians.  The  Central  Graians  stretch  from  the  Mont  Cenis,  on 
the  S.,  to  the  Little  St.  Bernard  Pass  (7179  ft.) — the  'Alpis 
Graia'  of  the  Romans — on  the  N.,  but  it  is  convenient  to 
include  in  them  the  sort  of  no-man's-land  that  extends  from  the 
Little  St.  Bernard  northwards  to  the  Col  de  la  Seigne  (8242  ft.); 
this  pass  is  the  best  S.  limit  of  the  chain  of  Mont  Blanc,  and 
some  concession  must  be  made  to  the  '  Monarch  of  the  Alps.' 
Now  the  bend  towards  the  N.W.  noted  above  takes  place  at  the 
Col  du  Carro  (10,302  ft.),  which  is  quite  close  to  the  points  at 
which  the  two  isthmuses,  connecting  the  main  backbone  with 
the  Western  and  the  Eastern  Graians,  join  or  diverge  from  the 
great  central  backbone,  the  Col  du  Mont  Iseran  (9085  ft.) 
linking  it  with  the  Western  Graians,  while  the  Col  de  la  Croix  de 
Nivolet  (8665  ft.)  performs  the  same  function  in  the  case  of  the 
Eastern  Graians.  These  unequal  halves  of  the  Central  Graians 
present  in  their  turn  two  very  striking  parallelisms.  In  each 
case  three  Alpine  glens  descend  from  them  on  the  Italian  slope, 
those  in  the  S.  half  being  the  three  Valleys  of  Lanzo,  that 
debouch  into  the  Piedmontese  plain  a  little  to  the  N.  of  Turin, 
while  the  three  in  the  N.  half — the  Val  Savaranche,  the  Val  de 
Rhemes,  and  the  Val  Grisanche — are  all  tributaries  of  the  Val 
d'Aosta ;  the  Stura  of  Lanzo  joins  the  Po,  as  does  the  Dora  Baltea, 
which  receives  the  streams  flowing  from  the  three  Aostan  glens. 
The  other  point  of  resemblance  between  the  two  halves  of  the 
Central  Graians  is  that,  as  often  elsewhere  in  the  Alps,  the 
Italian  slope  is  far  steeper  and  shorter  than  that  on  the  other  || 
side,  so  that  the  villages  on  the  French  slope  are  higher  than 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  299 

those  on  the  other,  while  the  Oreo,  on  the  Italian  side,  curiously 
balances,  to  use  that  phrase  once  again,  the  Arc,  on  the  other 
slope,  though,  of  course,  the  Oreo  is  an  affluent  of  the  Po,  and 
the  Arc  of  the  Isere,  and  so  ultimately  of  the  Rhone. 

There  are  yet  other  resemblances  between  the  Cottians  and 
the  Central  Graians.  We  noticed  when  describing  the  former 
that  the  main  chain  was  crossed  by  an  extraordinary  number  of 
easy  passes.  The  same  phenomenon  is  to  be  observed  in  the 
Central  Graians,  but  with  the  difference  that  whereas  in  the 
Cottians  these  passes  were  generally  snowless,  in  the  Central 
Graians  they  are  generally  glacier  passes,  though  of  such  an  easy 
character  that  in  the  last  sixty  years  of  the  seventeenth  century 
no  fewer  than  six  are  mentioned  in  maps  or  in  documents. 
Again,  just  as  the  two  slopes  of  the  Cottians  are  closely  related 
as  to  language,  commerce,  etc.,  because  till  17 13  they  both 
formed  part  of  the  Dauphine,  that  is  (since  1349),  of  France,  so 
the  two  slopes  of  the  Central  Graians  are  intimately  connected 
with  each  other,  the  language  being  more  or  less  an  identical 
dialect,  while  till  i860  they  had  both  been  ruled  for  many 
centuries  by  the  House  of  Savoy. 

One  more  point  of  resemblance  between  the  Cottians  and 
the  Central  Graians  must  be  noticed,  ere  we  quit  the  quaking 
grounds  of  parallels.  We  have  pointed  out  the  tendency  in  the 
Cottians  for  the  principal  peaks  to  rise  close  to  but  just  off  the 
actual  watershed.  This  tendency  is  much  more  marked  in  the 
Central  Graians.  The  Rochemelon  (11,605  ft-) — the  first 
snov>7  peak  in  the  Alps  to  be  conquered,  and  that  as  far  back 
as  1358 — is  not  an  instance  of  this,  for,  rising  just  beyond  the 
Mont  Cenis,  and  a  great  pilgrimage  resort  in  summer,  its 
summit,  though  on  the  watershed,  is  yet  pohtically  wholly  in 
Italy,  this  exception  having  been  specially  arranged  in  i860. 
But,  more  to  the  N.,  we  have  successively  the  Pointe  de  Char- 
bonel  (12,336  ft.),  the  loftiest  point  of  the  Central  Graians, 
and  the  Albaron  (12,015  ft.),  both  somewhat  on  the  French 
side  of  the  great  backbone,  while  the  Ciamarella  (12,061  ft.) 
balances  them  on  the  Italian  side  of  the  great  spine.  But  the 
Bessanese   (11,917    ft.) — the    Matterhorn   of  the   district — and 


ST 


300     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  three  summits  of  the  Levanna  (11,943  ft.)  all  rise  on  the  W 
actual  main  crest.     This   is  the  rule  more  to  the  N.,   though  fj^f 
there  are  exceptions,  such  as  the  Bee  de  I'lnvergnan  (11,838  ft.) 
and  the  Tete  du  Rutor  (11,438  ft.),  both  on  the  Italian  side, 
while  the  Grande  Aiguille  Rousse  (11,424  ft.)  is  on  the  French 
side  of  the  main  range.     This  singular  aloofness  on  the  part  | 
of  great  peaks  from  what  one  would  naturally  suppose  to  be 
their  proper  position  is  noticeable  in  many  other  parts  of  the 
Alps,  though  perhaps  not  quite  to  such  a  marked  degree  as  in 
the  Central  Graians. 

In  quitting  the  Central  Graians  let  us  just  remark  that  the 
famous  Mont  Iseran,  once  supposed  to  attain  the  height  of 
13,271  ft.,  is  as  regards  position  the  actual  E.  peak  (11,693  ft.) 
of  the  Levanna,  to  which  the  height  of  the  Grand  Paradis  has 
been  wrongly  attributed.  The  peak  now  called  the  Signal  du 
Mont  Iseran  is  only  10,634  ft.  in  height.  This  strange  delusion 
as  to  a  summit  that  never  existed  save  on  paper  was  finally 
cleared  up  in  1S59-1860  by  the  efforts  of  Messrs.  W.  Mathews 
and  J.  J.  Cowell,  who  took  the  obvious  course  (neglected, 
however,  by  their  predecessors)  of  actually  exploring  the  site 
of  this  supposed  giant  of  the  Alpine  chain. 

Let  us  now  look  for  a  moment  at  the  two  great  wings  of  the 
Central  Graians,  which,  after  all,  contain  the  loftiest  summits  of 
the  region.  That  to  the  W.  is  best  called  the  Western  Graians^ 
and  is  wholly  (since  i860)  in  France,  forming  the  division 
between  the  two  Savoyard  provinces  of  the  Maurienne  (Arc  valley) 
and  the  Tarentaise  (upper  Isere  valley).  It  culminates  in  the 
fine  peak  of  the  Grande  Casse  (12,668  ft.),  though  even  grander 
is  the  second  in  height,  the  glorious  Mont  Pourri  (12,428  ft.) 
— so  well  seen  from  the  Col  du  Bonhomme — while  number 
three,  the  Dent  Parrachee  (12,179  ^t.),  is  not  far  behind. 
There  are  a  number  of  other  peaks,  easy  of  access  and  command- 
ing  most  wonderful  panoramas,  for  the  position  of  the  Western  ^ 
Graians  between  the  Dauphine,  the  Pennine,  and  the  Eastern 
Graian  Alps,  naturally  makes  even  its  minor  summits  into  ;J 
belvederes  of  the  first  order.  In  the  new  edition  (1898)  of  Mr. 
John    Ball's    Western  Alps,  the   present  writer,  recollecting  at 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  301 

every  step  the  marvellous  views  which  he  had  enjoyed  from 
point  after  point  in  the  Western  Graians,  praised  up  peak  after 
peak,  without  considering  that  this  monotonous  series  of  recom- 
mendations would  amaze  those  who  had  not  had  his  good 
fortune.  That  this  was  so,  but  that  the  praise  was  really  well 
merited,  is  shown  by  the  following  friendly  quiz  by  an  English 
climber,  when  speaking  of  the  view  from  the  Dent  Parrachee  : 
'  The  peak  afforded  a  grand  view,  though,  indeed,  in  every  descrip- 
tion of  these  peaks  this  may  be  taken  for  granted  ;  in  looking 
through  "  Ball "  we  were  at  first  amused  to  read  of  apparently  each 
peak  that  it  commanded  a  marvellous  panorama,  or  that  the 
panorama  was  one  of  the  most  splendid  in  the  Graians,  or  some 
similar  phrase,  but  certainly  the  writer  was  justified.'  Another 
advantage  of  the  Western  Graians  is  the  way  in  which  the  district 
often  recalls  Switzerland,  and  affords  a  grateful  relief  to  the  eyes  of 
a  traveller  who,  as  is  so  often  the  case,  has  just  come  from  the 
belles  horreurs  of  the  Dauphine  Alps.  The  glaciers  spread 
out  widely  without  fear  of  taking  up  too  much  room — so  those 
of  the  Vanoise,  of  Gebroulaz,  of  the  Grande  Motte,  and  of 
Gurra.  This  alone  marks  them  off  from  the  generally  contorted 
and  half-ashamed  little  riven  glaciers  that  are  so  common  in 
Dauphine.  As  the  slopes  below  the  Western  Graian  glaciers 
are  less  arid  and  steep  than  in  Dauphine,  they  aff"ord  much 
finer  pastures  for  cattle  {the  Provencal  sheep  of  Dauphine  are 
totally  absent),  while  the  herdsmen's  huts  are  better,  and  the 
herdsmen  and  cheesemakers  themselves  often  Swiss,  generally 
from  the  Canton  of  Fribourg.  Of  late  years  the  Alpine  inns 
in  the  Western  Graians  have  greatly  improved,  and  in  this 
respect  the  district  is  more  Swiss-like  than  perhaps  any  other 
in  the  Alps  S.  of  Mont  Blanc. 

In  the  Eastern  Graians  (these  are  wholly  within  Italy)  the 
accommodation  has  also  been  improved,  though  not  nearly  to 
so  great  a  degree  as  farther  west.  The  reason  for  this  apparent 
backwardness  is  not  far  to  seek.  The  Eastern  Graians,  even 
more  than  the  Maritimes,  are  the  hunting-grounds  of  the  kings 
of  Italy,  the  game  is  very  strictly  preserved  by  a  small  army  of 
gamekeepers,  and  the  excellent  mule  paths  constructed  to  various 


302     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

points   can   only   be  used  by  travellers  when   the  king  is  not 
hunting  in  the  neighbourhood ;  in  short,  it  is  not  wished  that 
travellers  should  visit  this  region  in  any  great  numbers.     When 
one  inquires  why  the  kings  of  Italy  are  so  intent  on  keeping 
this  magnificent  district  more  or  less  to  themselves,  we  find 
that  it  is  because  it  is  the  last  refuge  in  the  Alps  of  the  Bouquetin 
or  Steinbock,  {Capra  ibex),  a  strange  animal,  which  resembles 
the  chamois  in  many  points,  though  zoologically  quite  distinct. 
There  are  said  to  be  about  three  hundred  bouquetins  still  in  the 
Eastern  Graians,  which  are  often  called  the  Mountains  of  Cogne, 
as  the  village  of  that  name  is  the  natural  headquarters  both  of 
the  king  and  of  the  comparatively  few  travellers  who  venture 
to  intrude  into  these  carefully  guarded  glens.      Of  course  the 
chamois  are  preserved  as  well  as  the  bouquetins,  so  that  they 
multiply  to  an  extraordinary  extent,  while  they  are  not  at  all 
shy  of  the  human  beings  who  may  check  their  steps  in  order 
to  watch  these  graceful  animals  (the  bouquetin  is  a  much  more 
clumsy-looking  beast).     On  one   occasion   the  writer  counted 
in  a  single  herd  of  chamois  up  to  seventy,  and  then  gave  it  up, 
as  there  were  so  many  more.     Possibly  the  culminating  point 
of  the  district,  the  Grand  Paradis  (13,324  ft.),  takes  its  name 
from  being  a  sort  of  '  Gemsenfreiheit,'  though  this  would  not 
apply  to  the  other  great  peaks,  the  Grivola  (13,022  ft.),   the 
Mont  Herbetet  (12,396  ft.),  and  the  Tour  du  Grand  St.  Pierre 
(12,113  ft).     If  one  is  an  epicure,  one  may  by  a  piece  of  good 
fortune  be  able  to  taste  the  flesh  of  a  bouquetin  (like  insipid 
veal)   as   a   curiosity,  for  the  king  often  offers  it  to  the  hotel 
guests,    reserving    the     horns    for    himself.       If    any    of    our 
readers    be    a    votary   of  the   chase,  he  will    sympathise   with 
the  feelings    of  wild    despair  with  which   one   of  the   writer's 
Oberland   guides    (a   great    Nimrod   in   his   own    land)   gazed 
helplessly,  without  a  rifle,  at  the  bouquetins  and  chamois  comino- 
forth  from  behind  every  stone  in  the  glen  where  we  were.     That 
night  he  dreamed  that  he  pursued,  on  foot,  one  of  these  wonder- 
ful bouquetins,  caught  him,  vaulted  on  his  back,  and  rode  in 
triumph  to  Grindelwald,  seated  on  the  back  of  this  original  kind 
of  steed.     The  writer  himself,  being  an  epicure  and  a  hunter 


i 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  303 

only  as  regards  mountain  summits,  prefers  to  recall  the  glorious 
views  to  be  had  from  the  Cogne  peaks  towards  the  Pennines, 
and  especially,  in  the  case  of  those  on  the  E.  edge  of  the  dis- 
trict, over  the  Piedmontese  plain  and  in  the  direction  of  Turin. 
But  one  of  the  most  singular  experiences  in  the  Alps  that  ever 
befell  him  was  to  spend  several  hours  sliding  about  on  the 
frozen  surface  of  the  quaint  little  lake  that  forms  the  very 
summit  of  the  Roccia  Viva  (11,976  ft.).  As  the  higher  summits 
are  some  way  off,  the  low  snow  barrier  that  guards  this  tarn 
effectually  prevents  any  one  from  witnessing  this  '  winter  sport ' 
that  may  be  practised  in  the  heart  of  summer.  But  a  question 
that  does  not  seem  to  have  yet  been  answered  is  how  was  this 
lakelet  (that  never  melts)  originally  formed  in  its  present  crater- 
like  hollow  on  the  very  tip  of  a  lofty  Alpine  peak  ? 

5.  Chain  of  Mont  Blanc. — In  our  progress  northwards  from 
Col  de  Tenda  one  huge  range  has  loomed  ever  nearer  and 
nearer  on  the  horizon,  like  a  vast  rampart  of  black  rock  and 
glittering  snow  or  ice,  towering  high  up  against  the  azure  sky. 
It  is  really  only  when  seen  from  the  S.  and  at  some  distance 
away  (best  from  the  Western  Graians  or  the  more  northerly 
summits  of  the  Dauphine  Alps)  that  its  true  grandeur,  majesty, 
and  immensity  can  be  properly  appreciated.  Precipitous,  of 
gigantic  height,  streaming  with  crevassed  glaciers,  surpassing  in 
height  everything  else  that  is  visible,  the  chain  of  Mont  Blanc, 
when  seen  from  the  S.  on  a  glorious  summer's  day,  is  a  sight 
that  can  never  be  forgotten,  and  which,  once  seen,  leaves  the 
keen  desire  to  be  thus  privileged  once  again.  On  the  map, 
indeed,  this  great  mass,  limited  by  the  Col  de  la  Seigne  and  the 
Col  Ferret  (831 1  ft.),  does  not  take  up  much  room,  and  in 
point  of  mere  length  and  breadth  must  yield  to  the  Cottians 
and  the  Graians.  But  when  we  come  to  study  it  more  in  detail 
we  find  that  in  many  respects  it  surpasses  both  these  ranges. 
True  it  is  that  in  the  matter  of  continuous  height  it  is  inferior 
to  the  Eastern  Pennines.  Yet  if  we  skim  over  it  from  the  Mont 
Tondu  (10.486  ft.),  at  its  S.W.  extremity,  to  the  Pointe  d'Orny 
(10,742  ft.),  at  its  N.E.  end,  we  discover  that  the  main  watershed 


304     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

falls  only  in  a  few  very  rare  cases  below  a  level  of  ii,ooo 
ft.,  an  elevation  superior  to  that  of  the  loftiest  summits  in  more 
than  one  of  our  twenty  mountain  groups.  Hence  the  glacier 
passes  across  this  great  barrier  are  extremely  high  (the  Col 
de  la  Brenva,  14,217  ft.,  is  only  surpassed  by  four  passes  in  the 
Eastern  Pennines),  and  in  many  cases  are  not  at  all  easy,  the 
most  frequented  being  that  which  pierces  the  very  heart  of  the 
chain,  the  Col  du  Geant  (11,060  ft.),  the  early  history  of  which 
was  sketched  in  Chapter  ix.  above. 

It  is  this  continuous  great  average  elevation  that  has  caused 
this  range  to  be  usually  named  the  '  chain '  of  Mont  Blanc, 
rather  than  the  'range'  of  Mont  Blanc,  for  the  summits  are 
bound  together  as  scarcely  anywhere  else  in  the  Alps.  Strictly 
speaking,  the  district  forms  the  'Western  Pennines,'  a  name 
hardly  ever  used,  though  it  explains  the  terms  '  Central '  and 
'  Eastern  Pennines,'  commonly  applied  to  those  rising  between 
it  and  the  Simplon  :  the  name  '  Pennines '  is,  of  course,  taken 
from  the  title  '  Summus  Penninus'  given  by  the  Romans  to 
the  Great  St.  Bernard,  the  great  pass  of  the  entire  region. 

Yet,  while  the  chain  of  Mont  Blanc  thus  forms  such  a  com- 
plete unity  in  itself,  it  has  the  singular  fate  of  at  present  belonging 
to  no  fewer  than  three  different  nations,  a  very  exceptional 
case,  though,  of  course,  many  ranges  owe  allegiance  to  two 
sovereigns.  As  explained  in  detail  in  Chapter  vii.,  this  three- 
fold division  is  due  to  a  series  of  historical  accidents.  Originally 
belonging  in  its  entirety  to  the  House  of  Savoy,  that  dynasty 
lost  the  N.E.  bit  of  the  chain  in  1475-6  to  the  Vallaisans  (hence 
to-day  this  is  Swiss),  while  in  i860  it  ceded  the  whole  Savoyard 
slope  with,  it  is  held,  the  actual  summit  of  Mont  Blanc,  to 
France.  This  partition  is,  however,  less  artificial  than  it  seems 
to  be  at  first  sight,  though  it  does  not  appear  that  the  political 
geography  was  made  intentionally  to  follow  the  physical 
tocography.  It  is  at  any  rate  remarkable  that  the  waters  which 
flow  from  the  range  directly  to  the  Rhone  are  politically  Swiss, 
while  those  that  unite  to  form  the  Dora  Baltea  (an  affluent  of  the 
Po)  are  Itahan ;  but  by  far  the  greatest  amount  swell  the  Arve, 
and,  to  a  shght  extent,  the  Isere,  and  are  French,  as  the  Arve, 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  305 

near  Geneva,  joins  the  Rhone,  so  that  that  great  river  receives 
most  of  what  is  technically  called  the  drainage  of  the  range — a 
curious  connection  between  water  and  politics.  The  three 
frontiers  meet  on  the  summit  of  the  Mont  Dolent  (12,543  ft.), 
which  thus  enjoys  the  distinction  of  being  in  three  countries. 

We  have  hitherto  taken  it  for  granted  that  our  readers  are 
well  aware  that  our  chain  contains  the  highest  peak  in  the 
Alps,  INIont  Blanc  (15,782  ft.)  itself.  It  is  indeed  the  'White 
Mountain '  above  all  others,  though  that  name  is  not  known  to 
occur  actually  in  a  printed  document  earlier  than  1742,  despite 
the  strong  probability  that  some  such  general  term  was  applied 
to  it  long  before  by  the  inhabitants  of  the  valley  of  Chamonix  at 
its  very  foot.  Yet  though  the  name  in  its  French  form  is  always 
recognised,  it  is  a  source  of  innocent  amusement  to  speak  of 
the  summit  by  its  translated  name,  and  to  see  how  many  of 
the  company  will,  without  a  little  thought,  grasp  what  mountain 
is  really  meant.  Though  Mont  Blanc  is  higher  than  Monte 
Rosa  (15,217  ft.),  it  is  equally  true  that  the  whole  range  of  Monte 
Rosa  is  loftier  than  the  chain  of  Mont  Blanc.  If  we  exclude 
Mont  Blanc  and  its  immediate  satellites  from  consideration,  it 
will  be  found  that  the  summits  of  the  range  next  in  order  of 
elevation  are  the  Grandes  Jorasses  (13,797  ft.)  and  the  Aiguille 
Verte  (13,541  ft.).  But  in  the  case  of  Monte  Rosa  there  are 
quite  a  number  of  summits  other  than  its  ten  or  eleven  peaks, 
and  taking  in  only  the  Eastern  Pennines,  which  exceed  or 
approach  14,000  ft.  One  result  of  this  fact  is  that  Mont  Blanc, 
flanked  by  its  immediate  attendants,  soars  far  higher  into  the 
air  than  does  Monte  Rosa,  and  is  thus  far  more  imposing  when 
seen  from  a  distance.  In  speaking  of  Mont  Blanc  one  thinks 
instinctively  of  the  peak  itself,  whereas  in  the  case  of  Monte 
Rosa  one  sees  a  great  wall  crowned  by  a  number  of  summits 
differing  but  little  in  point  of  elevation.  Both  are  superb  sights 
in  their  several  ways,  and  tastes  will  always  differ  as  to  which 
is  really  the  most  impressive.  Another  result  is  that  the  Alpine 
history  of  Mont  Blanc  is  far  shorter  than  that  of  Monte  Rosa, 
its  spurs  being  gained  on  the  way  to  the  culminating  point, 
while  the  lower  peaks  of  Monte  Rosa  were  climbed  as  ends  in 
u 


•^q 


3o6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

themselves.  Of  course,  as  we  pointed  out  in  Chapter  ix.,  the 
history  of  the  attempts  on  Mont  Blanc  form  the  commencement 
of  the  history  of  the  true  conquest  of  the  Alps,  for  while  the 
loftiest  tip  of  Mont  Blanc  was  attained  in  1786,  that  of  Monte 
Rosa  awaited  man's  enterprise  till  1855. 

Next  after  the  Monarch  himself  the  most  notable  feature  in 
the  chain  is  the  huge  and  deeply  sunk  glaciers  that  flow  down 
from  it  in  every  direction.  Though  surpassed  as  to  length  by 
at  least  three  glaciers  in  the  Bernese  Oberland,  and  only  able 
to  tie  (nine  and  a  quarter  miles  in  length)  with  the  Corner 
glacier,  at  Zermatt,  the  great  stream  of  ice  that  is  named  in 
different  portions  of  its  course  the  Ceant,  the  Tacul,  and  the 
Bois  glaciers,  and  the  '  Mer  de  Clace,'  is  one  of  the  best-known 
glaciers  in  the  Alps.  Was  it  not  the  glacier  which  was  most 
visited  by  the  early  visitors  to  Chamonix?  Was  it  not  over 
this  glacier  that  the  long-lost  route  led  to  Courmayeur  by  the 
Col  du  Geant?  Was  it  not  on  this  glacier  that  Forbes  in  1842 
and  Tyndall  in  1857  carried  out  their  experiments  as  to  the 
causes  of  glacier  motion  and  glacial  phenomena  in  general, 
observations  that  cast  into  the  shade  those  made  rather  earlier 
by  Hugi,  Agassiz,  and  Desor  on  the  Unteraar  glacier  in  the 
Bernese  Oberland  ?  The  next  longest  glacier  in  the  chain  is  the 
beautiful  one  of  Argentiere  (six  and  a  half  miles).  But  why  try  to 
cramp  our  admiration  to  mere  size  ?  Few  glaciers  can  attempt 
to  rival,  simply  from  the  picturesque  point  of  view,  the  great 
French  streams  of  Tour  and  Bossons  and  Taconnaz  and  Bion- 
nassay  and  Miage  and  Trelatete,  or  the  Italian  glaciers  of  Miage, 
of  Brouillard,  of  Fresnay,  of  Brenva  (the  most  magnificent  of  all), 
and  of  Triolet.  Nor  are  the  Swiss  glaciers  of  Saleinaz  and  Orny 
and  Trient  very  far  behind. 

More  characteristic  of  our  chain  are  the  strangely  splintered 
pinnacles  of  weathered  protogine  granite  that  bear  the  name  of 
'Aiguilles.'  There  are  many  summits  in  the  range  that  bear 
this  name,  so  rarely  found  elsewhere.  But  '■the  Chamonix 
Aiguilles '  are  seven  rock  needles  which  rise  in  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of  Chamonix,  five  clustered  together,  one  (the 
Dru)  a  little  way  off,  and  another  (the  Geant)  farther  away,  but 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  307 

very  visible  from  the  Montenvers  Hotel.  It  is  not  their  height 
which  distinguishes  them  from  other  summits  of  the  chain,  for 
with  one  exception  they  do  not  exceed  13,000  ft.,  while  three 
others  hardly  surpass  1 1,000  ft.  But  height  is  little  in  comparison 
with  grim  aspect  and  apparent  inaccessibility.  One  (the  Midi, 
12,609  ft.),  the  easiest  of  all,  was  climbed  as  far  back  as  1856. 
But  all  the  rest  were  not  vanquished  till  very  much  later,  and 
in  each  case  by  valiant  Englishmen,  the  triumphs  in  several 
cases  being  amongst  the  finest  exploits  ever  achieved  in  the 
Alps.  Here  is  the  list  in  order  of  date — the  Plan  (12,051  ft.), 
in  1871;  the  Blaitiere  (11,549  ft.),  in  1874;  the  Grand  Dru 
(12,320  ft.),  in  1878;  finally  the  Grands  Charmoz  (11,293  ft.), 
the  Grepon  (11,447  ft.),  and  the  Geant  (13,170  ft.),  in  three 
successive  years,  1880,  1881,  and  1882.  The  present  writer 
has  not  visited  Chamonix  since  1876,  when  the  four  last-named 
Aiguilles  were  thought  to  be  quite  inaccessible,  impossible, 
unclimbable,  etc.,  the  ascent  of  the  Blaitiere  being  then  held 
to  mark  the  high-water-mark  of  modern  climbing.  He  can 
thus  appreciate  better  than  many  the  old  feeling  of  respect 
and  awe  that  surrounded  these  gaunt  pinnacles,  though  now- 
adays that  feeling  seems  to  have  vanished.  As  the  lines 
are  being  written  it  is  announced  that  an  extremely  active 
English  climber,  on  one  summer's  day  in  1906,  cHmbed  succes- 
sively the  Charmoz,  the  Grepon,  and  both  summits  of  the 
Blaitiere,  the  time  taken  from  the  Montenvers  Hotel  and 
back  being  not  quite  sixteen  and  a  half  hours — halts  of  three 
hours  being  included.     How  are  the  mighty  fallen ! 

6.  Central  Pennine  Alps. — At  last !  some  of  our  readers  may 
cry,  at  last !  we  come  to  a  region  which  we  really  know  and  love. 
We  do  not  like  Chamonix  and  the  Mont  Blanc  chain  very  much. 
But  now  we  come  to  the  delightful  summer  haunts  that  abound 
in  that  pearl  of  the  Alps,  the  Swiss  Canton  of  the  Vallais.  Other 
readers  of  these  pages,  not  unwilling  to  show  that  their  know- 
ledge is  a  little  more  extensive,  may  adopt  for  this  district  the 
name  of  'The  Alpine  Midlands,' as  it  lies  between  those  two 
great  'centres,'  Chamonix  and  Zermatt.     But  the  use  of  this 


3o8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

name  rather  implies  that  the  speaker  beUeves  in  his  heart  of 
hearts  that  there  are  really  no  other  mountains  (save  perhaps 
those  of  the  Bernese  Oberland)  which  are  worth  considering. 
Now  one  object  of  this  book  is  to  show  that,  while  the  Pennines 
(Western,  Central,  or  Eastern)  undoubtedly  rank  first  in  the 
Alps,  in  point  of  elevation  and  extent  of  perpetual  snow,  there 
are  many  other  mountains  well  worth  visiting,  while,  be  it  said 
under  one's  breath,  they  are  in  some  cases  more  beautiful  and 
charming  than  the  much-vaunted  Pennines. 

However  this  may  be,  let  us  now  study  our  new  district.  Its 
W.  limit  is  the  Col  Ferret,  but  only  a  few  summits,  the  chief 
being  the  Grand  GoUiaz  (10,630  ft.),  are  covered  by  everlasting 
snow,  till  we  reach  the  famous  pass  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
(81 1 1  ft.).  That  pass,  therefore,  is  the  real  W.  limit  of  our 
region,  which  extends  thence  to  the  St.  Theodule  Pass  (10,899 
ft.),  that  divides  it  from  the  Eastern  Pennines.  There  is  no 
need  to  dwell  on  the  history  of  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  so  full  of 
interest  in  every  way,  beyond  remarking  that  it  is  one  of  the  oldest 
passes  known  to  have  been  utilised,  the  Roman  name  of 'Summus 
Penninus,'  or  '  Mons  Jovis,'  having  gradually  been  superseded  by 
that  of  the  second  founder  of  the  Hospice,  St.  Bernard  of  Menthon, 
who  died  about  1081.  The  good  deeds  of  the  Austin  Canons 
(who  have  served  it  perhaps  from  1154,  certainly  from  12 15) 
are  renowned  throughout  the  world,  while  their  faithful  dogs 
are  scarcely  less  famous.  Contrary  to  what  is  often  believed, 
ecclesiastics  do  not  always  lag  far  behind  the  times.  Witness 
the  energy  of  the  present  occupants  of  the  Hospice,  who  in 
1906  sent  some  of  their  members  down  to  Martigny  to  be 
instructed  in  the  art  of  driving  a  motor-car,  in  which  they 
triumphantly  returned  to  their  mountain  home,  while,  so  it  is 
said — but  the  proof  of  the  pudding  will  be  in  the  eating — this 
motor-car,  furnished  with  runners,  is  to  be  sent  out  in  winter 
from  the  Hospice  to  search  for  travellers  overtaken  by  storms. 
Can  anything  more  '  modern '  be  imagined  ? 

A  glance  at  a  map  of  our  district  reveals  at  once  two  singular  ^ 
features  which  mark  it  off  from  other  regions.     One  is  that  from 
quite  near  the  Hospice  eastwards  the  main  ridge  is  not  traversed 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  309 

by  a  single  non-glacier  pass.  It  is  true  that  the  Col  de  Fenetre 
(9141  ft.)  is  a  very  mild  and  anodyne  kind  of  glacier  pass,  while 
the  Col  de  CoUon  (10,270  ft.)  and  the  St.  Theodule  itself  (10,899 
ft),  despite  its  height,  are  not  difficult  from  a  modern  standpoint. 
These  three  passes  have  been  known  and  traversed  by  local  folk 
for  many  centuries,  certainly  from  the  first  half  of  the  sixteenth 
century,  beyond  which  our  records  are  very  scanty.  Hence 
communications  between  the  valley  of  Aosta  and  the  Vallais 
were  by  no  means  arduous,  though,  of  course,  the  Great  St. 
Bernard,  with  its  Hospice  and  Canons,  offered  special  con- 
veniences and  advantages.  The  other  notable  feature  of  the 
region  is  the  odd  arrangement  of  the  valleys  that  are  included 
in  it.  On  the  S.  slope  there  is  but  one  considerable  glen,  that 
of  Valpelline,  apart  from  the  Val  Tournanche,  which  belongs  to 
the  Eastern  Pennines  as  much  as  to  the  Central  Pennines. 
Now  the  Valpelline,  though  it  can  boast  of  fine  scenery,  has 
never  been  a  favourite  with  English  travellers,  so  that  its 
exploration  has  been  mainly  carried  out  by  Italians,  despite  the 
fact  that  an  Irishman,  Mr.  Adams-Reilly,  in  1865-6,  constructed 
an  excellent  map  of  the  glen,  based  on  his  personal  observations. 
The  glen  of  St.  Rhemy,  leading  up  to  the  Great  St.  Bernard,  is 
a  tributary  of  the  Valpelline,  while  that  of  St.  Barthelemy,  though 
not  properly  a  tributary,  is  yet  thrust  up  into  the  hills  that  rise 
between  the  Valpelline  and  the  Val  Tournanche.  Now  if  we 
look  at  the  N.  slope  of  our  districts  we  shall  find  things  very 
different  in  this  matter  of  valleys.  On  that  side,  between  the 
Val  d'Entremont  and  the  Zermatt  valley  (reckoning  neither  in 
our  list)  there  are  three  or  four  glens  of  very  considerable  length 
and  size — the  Val  de  Bagnes,  the  Val  d'Herens  (with  its  side 
glens  of  Heremence,  Arolla,  and  Ferpecle),  the  Val  d'Anniviers 
(with  its  tributary,  the  Val  de  Moiry),  and  the  Turtmann  valley. 
The  Nendaz  valley  stands  to  the  Val  de  Bagnes  and  the  Val 
d'He'rens  in  somewhat  the  same  relation  as  the  Val  St.  Bar- 
thelemy does  to  the  Valpelline  and  the  Val  Tournanche — it  is 
thrust  up  into  the  mountains  between  them,  but  does  not  quite 
attain  the  great  divide,  being,  as  it  were,  held  back  by  its  two 
neighbours.     The  same  remark  may  be  made  as  to  the  Turt- 


310     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

mann  valley,  with  a  change  in  the  names  of  its  opponents,  but 
this  glen  is  the  least  important  of  all,  for  it  contains  no  per- 
manently inhabited  village,  and  is  occupied  only  by  cows  and 
herdsmen  during  the  summer  months.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  valleys  of  Bagnes,  of  Kerens,  and  of  Anniviers  have  most 
interesting  local  histories,  which  those  persons  might  well  study 
in  winter  who  frequent  them  in  summer.  One  of  the  quaintest 
facts  in  this  local  history  is  the  fashion  in  which  different  bits  of 
the  same  valley  were  held  by  different  lords.  One  would  natur- 
ally imagine  that  each  valley  would  in  its  entirety  belong  to  one 
feudal  lord,  even  though  other  personages  might  own  lands 
therein.  But  it  would  almost  be  truer,  in  these  as  in  other 
cases,  to  assert  the  contrary.  The  oddest  of  all  is  perhaps  the 
Val  de  Bagnes.  Originally  this  belonged  to  the  House  of  Savoy, 
which  also  held  the  Val  d'Aosta  and  the  Lower  Vallais.  But  in 
1 150  the  Count  gave  the  lower  portion  of  the  valley  to  the 
Austin  Canons  of  St.  Maurice,  in  the  Vallais,  who  held  it  till 
1798.  Again,  in  1252,  the  upper  half  of  the  valley  was  made 
over  by  Savoy  to  the  lords  of  Quart,  in  the  Val  d'Aosta.  Thus 
the  valley  'looked  towards'  two  very  different  lords.  As  the 
pastures  at  the  head  of  the  glen,  those  of  Chermontane,  are 
remarkably  fine,  they  were  leased  out  by  the  lords  of  Quart  (we 
hear  of  such  a  lease  as  early  as  1398),  but  the  men  of  the  lower 
half,  filled  with  jealousy  at  this  occupation  of  rich  meadows  that 
naturally  ought  to  have  belonged  to  them,  often  attacked  the 
Aostan  herdsmen.  The  division  between  the  two  halves  was 
drawn  at  the  bridge,  below  the  Mauvoisin  Hotel,  for  long  known 
(even  as  late  as  1694)  as  the  '  Pont  de  Quart,'  though  now  com- 
monly called  the  '  Pont  de  Mauvoisin.'  Some  writers  hold, 
however,  that  the  true  '  Pont  de  Quart '  was  rather  higher  up 
the  valley,  and  led  from  the  Chermontane  huts  to  those  of 
Vingt-huit. 

Yet  these  valleys  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  watershed,  so  well 
known  to  summer  travellers  to-day,  were  first  explored  in  the 
thirties  and  forties  of  the  nineteenth  century,  when  it  was 
thought  quite  a  feat  to  visit  Evolena,  or  Arolla  (no  inn  then), 
or  Zinal :  it  was  almost  as  necessary  to  write  a  book  or  article 


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THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  311 

as  to  such  a  daring  expedition  as  it  was  in  the  case  of  the  ascent 
of  Mont  Blanc.     Naturally,  too,  the  high  peaks  of  the  region 
received  no  attention,  although  the  principal  passes  close  beneath 
were  well  known  and  even  frequented.     In  the  western  portion 
of  the  region,  the  Grand  Combin  (14,164  ft.)  is  the  culminating 
point,  and  shares  with  the  Finsteraarhorn  (14,026  ft.),  in   the 
Bernese  Oberland,  the  honour  of  being  the  only  Alpine  summit 
over  14,000  ft.  that  rises  outside  the  Mont  Blanc  chain  and  the 
immediate  neighbourhood  of  Zermatt :  in  the  eastern  portion  of 
the  district,  it  is,  of  course,  surpassed  by  the  Weisshorn  (14,804  ft.), 
the  Matterhorn  (14,782  ft.),  and  the  Dent  Blanche  (i4j3i8  ft.). 
These  three  giants  were  conquered,  in  each  case  by  EngHshmen, 
in  1861,  1865,  and  1862  respectively.     But  the  Grand  Combin 
had  only  been  vanquished  in  1859,  and  then  by  a  celebrated 
French    geologist,    M.    Ch.     Sainte-Claire-Deville,    though    its 
neighbour,  the   Mont  Velan   (12,353   ft.),   had  been  overcome 
as  far  back  as  1779.     The  actual  name  '  Kumben '  occurs  as 
early  as  1550  in  Sebastian  Miinster's  Cosmographia  Ufiiversalis, 
where  it  seems  to  indicate  the  Col  de  Fenetre  or  the  Col  Ferret. 
But,  as  far  as  the  present  writer  is  aware,  the  form  '  Combin  ' 
does   not   appear  till    1804,   in   Ebel's    Guide-book.     On   many 
maps  of  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  centuries  we  find  indi- 
cated in  large  letters,  and  placed  between  the  Great  St.  Bernard 
and  the  Monte  Rosa  group,  a   mysterious   'Mont  Coupeline,' 
which  is  certainly  meant  for  our  peak.     Most  of  these  maps 
place  it  at  the  head  of  the  Valpelline,   so   that  the  name  is 
probably  an  instance  of  'conflation,'  and  formed  by  a  fusion 
of  'Valpelline,'  'Col'  (indicating  either  the  Col  de  CoUon  or 
the  Col  de  Fenetre),  and  '  Combin.'     Another  form  sometimes 
found,   '  Mont  Colomb,'  is  probably  intended  to  indicate  the 
Mont  CoUon  (11,956  ft.),  that  makes  such  a  show  from  Arolla, 
and    those    pastures  were    utilised    already   in  1442,   while   at 
the   end   of  the   thirteenth   century   we  hear  of  Arolla  as  the 
haunt  of  bears  and  of  chamois,  which  probably  deterred  any 
cattle  from  coming  up  thither.     Is  there  any  need  to  speak  of 
modern    Arolla,    and    Evolena,  and   Zinal?      The   writer    can 
recollect  his  first  visit  to  Zinal  in  1869,  when  there  was  but  a 


312     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

single  inn,  the  Hotel  Durand,  which  had  four  tiny  bedrooms 
only,  all  opening  into  a  small  central  dining-room.  In  1870 
things  were  not  much  better,  even  at  Evolena,  while  he  will 
never  forget  the  horrors  of  a  week  snow-bound  at  Arolla  in 
1887.  In  1870  Gruben,  in  the  Turtmann  valley,  was  delight- 
fully simple.  In  all  these  cases  comparatively  few  years  had 
elapsed  since  tourists  had  come  to  any  of  these  spots  in 
sufficient  numbers  to  make  it  desirable  to  cater  for  them 
specially.  But  in  1887  Zinal  was  already  spoilt,  in  the  eyes  of 
the  present  writer,  who  obtained  the  last  bed  at  his  old  inn, 
found  that  inn  pervaded  by  a  school  of  young  girls,  and  the 
scene  of  noisy  rejoicings.  Let  us,  however,  turn  our  thoughts 
from  such  desecration  of  Alpine  glens,  and  utter  as  our  last  words 
a  word  of  warning  to  our  readers  not  to  place  any  credence  in 
the  absurd  and  wild  theory,  a  veritable  mare's  nest,  that  the 
Zinal  valley  was  once  peopled  by  Huns.  Authentic  history 
shows  that,  like  that  of  Herens,  it  was  colonised  from  the 
Vallais,  the  so-called  Hunnish  characteristics  being  simply  due 
to  backwardness  on  the  part  of  the  inhabitants  to  enter  upon 
the  march  towards  modern  civilisation. 


7.  Eastern  Pennine  Alps. — The  most  easterly  group  in  the 
whole  of  the  Western  Alps  is  also  that  which  boasts  of  the 
greatest  continuous  elevation  in  the  entire  chain.  Mont  Blanc 
itself,  of  course,  surpasses  any  single  peak  in  the  Eastern 
Pennines,  but,  as  we  pointed  out  above  in  Section  5,  if  we  put 
aside  that  mighty  summit,  with  its  immediate  satellites,  the 
height  of  the  Mont  Blanc  chain  is  far  inferior  to  that  of  the 
mass  of  Monte  Rosa.  Take  any  large  scale  map  of  our  region, 
which  extends  from  the  St.  Theodule  to  the  Simplon  Pass 
(6592  ft.),  and  study  it  with  some  attention.  Very  soon  after 
leaving  the  St.  Theodule  on  our  journey  eastwards  we  come  to 
the  Zermatt  Breithorn,  which  attains  an  elevation  of  13,685  ft., 
and  is  thus  only  112  ft.  lower  than  the  Grandes  Jorasses,  the 
loftiest  summit  in  the  chain  of  Mont  Blanc  next  after  the 
Monarch  and  his  attendants.  From  the  Breithorn  onwards 
the  height  all  but  steadily  increases  through  the  Twins  (Castor 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  313 

is  13,879  ft.,  though  Pollux  is  but  13,433  ft.)  and  the  Lyskamm 
(14,889  ft.)  to  the  five  highest  peaks  of  Monte  Rosa,  the  loftiest 
of  which,  the  Dufourspitze,  is  15,217  ft.,  while  the  lowest  is 
still  14,965  ft.  in  altitude,  the  other  five  peaks  of  Monte  Rosa 
being  merely  snow-humps  on  or  near  the  watershed.  N.  of 
Monte  Rosa  there  is  a  great  fall  to  the  wide  opening  over  which 
lead  the  various  passes  called  'Weissthor'  or  'Porte  Blanche,' 
a  most  appropriate  name  for  this  great  gate  open  towards  Italy. 
Near  the  Strahlhorn  the  main  ridge  bears  away  E.  to  rise  soon 
again  in  the  range  that  bounds  the  valley  of  Saas  on  the  E.,  and 
which  is  comparatively  quite  low,  for  its  culminating  points  are 
the  Weissmies,  the  Laquinhorn,  and  the  Rossbodenhorn,  which 
are  not  able  to  rise  respectively  above  13,226  ft.,  13,140  ft.,  and 
13,128  ft.,  a  great  drop  indeed  from  the  height  to  which  we  have 
become  accustomed  since  leaving  the  St.  Theodule.  But  from 
the  Strahlhorn  northwards  the  range,  though  technically  but  a 
lofty  spur,  rising  between  the  valleys  of  Zermatt  and  of  Saas, 
is  the  true  continuation  of  the  mighty  group  of  Monte  Rosa. 
From  the  Strahlhorn  (13,751  ft.)  we  rise  to  the  Rimpfischhorn 
(13,790  ft.),  descend  slightly  to  the  AUalinhorn  (13,236  ft.), 
rise  again  to  the  Alphubel  (13,803  ft.),  and  so  ever  upwards  to 
the  Taschhorn  (14,758  ft.)  and  the  Dom  (14,942  ft.),  the  loftiest 
summits  of  the  Mischabel  group.  Then  comes  the  great  drop, 
though  a  gradual  one,  through  the  Nadelhorn  (14,220  ft.)  and 
the  Ulrichshorn  (12,891  ft.)  to  the  Balfrin  (12,474  ft.),  which 
makes  such  a  show  from  Visp,  where  the  traveller  embarks  in 
the  railway  for  Zermatt.  The  same  phenomenon  of  exceeding 
great  continuous  height  is  naturally  very  well  marked  in  the  case 
of  the  passes  that  cross  this  huge  range.  From  the  Zermatt 
Breithorn  right  round  to  the  Balfrin,  not  a  single  pass  falls 
below  11,400  ft.  Most  considerably  exceed  the  height,  pro- 
digious for  a 'pass,'  of  12,000  ft.,  while  of  the  seven  loftiest 
passes  (all  over  14,000  ft.)  in  the  Alps  no  fewer  than  six  (see 
our  list  in  Appendix  i.)  are  situated  in  our  region — the  highest 
elsewhere,  the  Col  de  la  Brenva  (14,217  ft.),  in  the  chain  of 
Mont  Blanc,  occupying  but  the  fifth  rank.  The  highest  of  all 
the  seven  is,  of  course,  the  Silbersattel  (14,732  ft.,  not  many 


314     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

peaks  in  the  Alps  are  higher),  between  the  two  loftiest  summits 
of  Monte  Rosa,  while  the  lowest  is  the  Lysjoch,  which  merely 
attains  14,033  ft. :  all  the  seven  are  situated  in  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of  Monte  Rosa,  save  the  Brenva  (see  above)  ' 
and  the  Domjoch  (14,062  ft.),  which  lies  between  the  two 
culminating  summits  of  the  Mischabel  range. 

Here  we  pause  to  clear  up  two  points  which  are  often  mis-  f; 
understood.  We  sometimes  read  of  enthusiastic  dithyrambs  3 
on  the  subject  of  the  marvellous  fehcity  of  the  name  '  Monte  9 
Rosa,'  whether  explained  with  reference  to  the  roseate  tints 
of  dawn  which  first  illumine  its  crest  (but  then  what  about 
the  still  higher  Mont  Blanc  or  the  '  White  Mountain '  ?),  or 
to  the  symmetrical  arrangement  of  its  nine  or  ten  summits,  like 
the  petals  of  a  rose  (but  a  glance  at  a  map  will  show  that  there 
is  a  great  break  in  this  lovely  circle).  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
name  simply  comes  from  an  old  word  of  the  Aostan  dialect, 
variously  written  '  reuse,' '  roisa,'  '  roesa,'  or  '  ruise '  (the  actual 
form  'rosa'  is  used  in  1574  by  Simler,  and  in  1596  in  a  I 
document  relating  to  the  glacier  Rutor  lake),  which  simply 
means  a  'glacier.'  Thus,  just  as  the  St.  Theodule  Pass  (see 
Chapter  iii.)  is  called  '  The  Glacier,'  so  the  culminating  point  of 
'  The  Glacier '  has  to  this  day  retained  the  name  of  '  Monte 
Rosa,'  otherwise  '  The  Glacier  Mountain ' :  it  will  be  recollected 
that  the  learned  name  for  glaciers  was  formerly  'montes 
glaciales.'  It  is  a  pity,  in  a  way,  to  destroy  a  picturesque 
legend,  but  it  is  rare  to  be  able  to  kill  a  myth  as  effectually 
as  in  this  case. 

The  doubtful  point  is  that  the  Dom  (14,942  ft.)  is  'the 
highest  mountain  in  Switzerland.'  Now  if  by  '  mountain  '  we 
mean  an  independent  peak,  rising  more  or  less  alone,  this  ^ 
statement  is  true.  But  if,  as  is  more  usually  the  case,  we  fl 
understand  by  the  term  'mountain'  some  one  particular  | 
'  summit,' then  this  statement  is  not  even  a  half-truth,  for  the  '  H 
Dufourspitze  of  Monte  Rosa  (15,217  ft.)  rises  wholly  within  (i 
Switzerland,  being  situated  on  a  spur  that  projects  west  from  r, 
the  main  watershed  and  political  frontier.  Hence  it  was  but  l; 
fitting    that   the  loftiest  Swiss  peak  should  be    christened  (in     'i 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  315 

1863)  after  General  Dufour  (i 787-1875),  under  whose  superin- 
tendence the  remarkable  map  survey  of  Switzerland  had  been 
carried  out. 

Now  when  tracing  out  in  Chapter  ix.  the  history  of  the  early 
exploration  of  Monte  Rosa,  we  laid  stress  on  the  fact  that  the 
first  conquest  of  its  highest  summit  was  one  of  the  first 
exploits  of  the  small  band  of  Englishmen,  who  had  seriously 
taken  up,  though  rather  late  in  the  day,  the  task  of  climbing 
all  the  highest  peaks  of  the  Alps.  Enghsh  travellers  began  to 
come  to  Zermatt  in  the  early  fifties,  but  it  was  not  till  the 
Rifielberg  inn  (now  called  the  Riffelhaus  inn)  was  opened  in 
1S54  that  expeditions  in  the  range  became  easy,  and  therefore 
that  the  first  serious  attack  on  Monte  Rosa  was  made  in  1854. 
This  first  success  led  the  way  to  others,  and  so  it  came  to  pass 
that,  with  the  exception  of  certain  minor  summits  of  Monte 
Rosa  (visited  from  1801  to  1842)  and  of  the  peaks  on  either 
side  of  the  St.  Theodule  (the  Theodulhorn  and  Little  Matter- 
horn  climbed  by  Saussure  in  1792,  and  the  Breithorn  by 
Monsieur  Maynard  in  1813),  all  but  three  or  four  of  the 
higher  peaks  around  Zermatt,  whether  in  the  Central  or  in 
the  Eastern  Pennines,  were  first  ascended  by  EngUshmen,  and 
that  between  the  dates  of  1854  and  1865.  Here  is  the 
list,  which  proves  how  strongly  Englishmen  were  early 
attracted  to  this  valley,  and  explains  why  so  many  have  since 
loved  it  so  heartily — 1854,  Strahlhorn  ;  1855,  Monte  Rosa; 
1856,  Allalinhorn  ;  1858,  Dom ;  1859,  Rimpfischhorn ;  i860, 
Alphubel;  1861,  Nord  End  of  Monte  Rosa,  Weisshorn, 
Lyskamm,  and  Castor;  1862,  Taschhorn  and  Dent  Blanche; 
1863,  Dent  d'Herens  and  Balfrin;  1864,  Zinal  Rothhorn;  and 
1865,  Ober  Gabelhorn  and — the  Matterhorn.  If,  however, 
we  look  at  the  higher  points  of  the  range  on  the  other  side  of 
the  Saas  valley,  we  find  that  English  successes  are  limited  to 
the  Laquinhorn  in  1856  and  the  Portjengrat  in  1871.  Still, 
English  climbers  need  not  complain,  and  Zermatt  certainly 
became  the  second  home  of  the  Alpine  Club,  if  Chamonix  (or 
rather  St.  Gervais)  was  really  its  cradle. 

Another   very  interesting  point  as  to  the  Eastern  Pennines 


3i6     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

concerns  the  race  to  which  its  early  inhabitants  belonged. 
It  is  well  known  that  the  Zermatt  valley  was  originally  inhabited 
by  a  Romance-speaking  race  (hence  the  names  '  Praborgne ' 
for  Zermatt,  and  '  Chouson '  for  St.  Niklaus),  which  was  later 
(probably  in  the  fifteenth  century)  overlaid  and  absorbed  by 
a  Teutonic  race,  swarming  down  from  the  German-speaking 
Upper  Vallais — the  name  '  Pratoborno  '  is  found  as  late  as 
1450,  while  that  of  '  Matt '  occurs  on  the  first  Swiss  map  (that 
of  Konrad  Tiirst),  dated  1495-7.  The  full  form  'Zermatt' 
seems  to  occur  first  on  Antoine  Lambien's  map  of  the  Vallais 
(1682),  and  occurs  again  in  maps  of  1712,  1756,  1760,  and 
1762,  though  it  did  not  supersede  other  forms  till  after 
Saussure's  visit  of  1789.  Again,  at  the  heads  of  several  of 
the  valleys  situated  on  the  S.  and  E.  of  the  range  stretching 
from  the  St.  Theodule  to  the  Monte  Moro,  there  still  exist 
colonies  of  German-speaking  folk,  who,  at  some  unknown  date 
(perhaps  as  early  as  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries),  came 
over  (it  would  be  interesting  to  know  if  they  crossed  the 
St.  Theodule  or  the  Monte  Moro)  from  their  home  in  the 
Vallais,  for  the  dialect  still  spoken  at  Gressoney  (Val  de  Lys), 
Alagna  (Val  Sesia),  and  Macugnaga  (Val  Anzasca)  is  certainly 
of  Vallaisan  origin.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  it  is  certain  that  about 
1250  Macugnaga  was  really  colonised  from  the  Saas  valley 
while  Italian-speaking  folk  emigrated  between  1261  and  1291 
from  the  lower  Val  Anzasca  across  the  Monte  Moro  to 
the  Saas  valley,  though  later,  as  in  the  case  of  the  Zermatt 
valley,  they  were  absorbed  by  a  Teutonic  population  coming 
from  the  Upper  Vallais.  Hence,  while  the  Anza  stream  is 
still  called  the  '  Visp,'  the  predecessors  of  the  present  Teutonic 
names  of  Balen  were  '  Aballa ' ;  of  Almagell,  '  Armenzello ' ;  of 
Saas  itself,  '  Soxa'  or  'Sausa,'  At  one  time  it  was  currently  be- 
lieved that  some  of  these  names  were  of  Arabic  origin,  and  due 
to  the  presence  of  a  colony  of  Saracens,  as  shown  by  the  '  Al ' 
in  '  Allalin  '  and  '  Almagell.'  The  theory  was  tempting  at  first 
sight,  and  greatly  attracted  the  present  writer.  But  when  he 
came  to  look  into  the  authentic  mediaeval  documents  relating 
to  the  valley,  he  renounced  it  at  once,  as  Italian  influence  was 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  317 

plainly  responsible  for  these  names,  though  in  every  case  it  is 
not  now  easy  to  detect  it  in  the  Teutonised  form  commonly 
used. 

Thus  the  Eastern  Pennines  rank  among  the  most  interesting 
districts  of  the  Alps,  whether  from  the  linguistic  and  racial 
point  of  view,  or  from  that  of  Alpine  history,  while  it  is  certain 
that  no  other  Alpine  region  maintains  so  great  a  continuous 
elevation.  It  appears  hence  that  great  height  does  not 
necessarily  mean  a  desolate  region,  but  is  compatible  with 
many  ethnological  and  linguistic  peculiarities  that  are  a  marked 
feature  in  the  region  even  at  the  present  day. 

II. — Central  Alps 

8.  Bernese  Alps. — What  do  we  mean  precisely  by  the  term 
'Bernese  Oberland'  or  the  'Bernese  Alps'?  Most  of  our 
readers  will  probably  reply  :  '  Oh  !  the  valleys  of  Lauterbrunnen, 
of  Grindelwald,  and  of  Hasle  ' ;  in  other  words,  the  region  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Interlaken,  and  of  the  Lakes  of  Thun 
and  of  Brienz.  No  doubt  this  district  is  strictly  the  '  Ober- 
land '  or  '  Highlands  '  of  the  canton  of  Berne.  But  historically 
we  must  also  include  in  the  '  Bernese  Oberland '  the  valleys 
of  the  Kander  and  of  the  Simme,  and  even  the  upper  reach 
of  the  valley  of  the  Sarine  or  Saane,  for,  as  shown  in  Chapter 
VII.,  all  these  were  gradually  added  to  the  wide  domains  of 
the  town  of  Berne.  Topographically  we  must  cast  our  net 
even  more  widely,  for  the  Dent  de  Morcles  and  the  Grand 
Muveran  and  the  Diablerets,  all  looking  towards  the  Lake  of 
Geneva,  are,  on  the  S.W.,  the  natural  continuation  of  the 
'Bernese  Oberland,'  as,  on  the  N.E.,  is  the  Uri  Rothstock, 
above  the  Lake  of  Lucerne,  not  to  speak  of  the  Titlis  and  the 
Damm.astock  districts.  Thus,  from  a  topographical  point  of 
view,  we  include  under  the  name  of  the  '  Bernese  Oberland  ' 
the  entire  mountain  country  situated  N.  of  the  upper  valley  of  the 
Rhone  and  W.  of  that  of  the  Reuss,  and  extending  from  the 
shores  of  the  Lake  of  Geneva  to  those  of  the  Lake  of  Lucerne. 
It  is  linked  by  the  Furka  Pass  (7992  ft.)  to  the  Lepontines, 


3i8     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

which  continue  the  Pennines  and  the  main  watershed  of  the 
Alps  towards  the  E.  Thus  the  Bernese  Oberland,  in  our 
sense  of  the  term,  is  a  huge  outHer  of  the  principal  chain,  just 
as  are  the  Dauphine  Alps,  neither  being  on  the  great  divide, 
a  circumstance  that  has  greatly  affected  the  course  of  their 
history  in  either  case  (see  Chapter  vii.). 

Hence  the  whole  region  is  Swiss.  But  a  moment's  thought 
will  show  parts  of  it  belong  to  Cantons  other  than  that  of 
Berne.  The  entire  S.  slope  is,  and  always  has  been,  Vallaisan. 
Portions  of  the  W.  wing  (that  is,  W.  of  the  Gemmi)  are  in  the 
Cantons  of  Vaud  and  of  Fribourg,  though  historically  much 
that  is  now  in  Vaud  did  actually  belong  (till  1798)  to  Berne  by 
virtue  of  its  conquest  (1475)  of  the  district  of  Aigle  from  Savoy, 
and  of  its  division,  with  Fribourg,  of  the  domains  of  the  last 
Count  of  the  Gruyere  (1555).  Similarly  in  the  case  of  the  E. 
wing  (E.  of  the  Grimsel  Pass),  we  find  that  the  Cantons  of  Uri, 
and  Unterwalden,  and  Lucerne  all  hold  bits  of  the  'Bernese 
Oberland,'  and  these  bits  have  never  at  any  time  belonged 
politically  to  Berne.  Hence,  strictly  speaking,  our  general  name 
is  inaccurate  as  regards  both  wings,  and  must  be  understood  in 
a  topographical  sense  only. 

Further,  on  examining  a  large-scale  map,  we  find  that  many 
lofty  summits  which  rise  within  the  limits  of  the  'narrow 
Bernese  Oberland'  (from  the  Gemmi  to  the  Grimsel)  are 
wholly  or  partially  Vallaisan.  Thus  such  typical  Oberland 
summits  as  the  Aletschhorn  (the  second  in  elevation),  the 
Gross  Nesthorn,  and  the  Bietschhorn  all  rise  on  the  Vallais  side 
of  the  watershed,  while  many  other  great  Oberland  peaks  are 
on  that  watershed  itself,  and  so  are  shared  between  the  Vallais 
and  Berne ;  such  are  the  Altels,  the  Balmhorn,  the  Lauter- 
brunnen  Breithorn,  the  Jungfrau,  the  Monch,  the  two  Fiescher- 
horner,  even  the  Finsteraarhorn  itself  (the  monarch  of  the 
group),  and  the  Oberaarhorn.  What  then  is  left  that  is  strictly 
Bernese  in  the  '  Bernese  Oberland '  ?  A  good  deal,  for  the 
Oberland  is  a  very  extensive  region.  Completely  Bernese 
are  all  the  summits  of  the  Bllimlisalp  and  Gspaltenhorn  group, 
as  well  as   the   Silberhorn  and   the   Eiger,    together   with   the 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  319 

whole  of  the  mighty  Schreckhorn  and  Wetterhorn  ranges,  so 
that  an  anxious  inquirer  may  be  soothed  by  finding  that  some 
well-known  '  Bernese  Oberland '  peaks  are  really  and  truly 
entitled  to  the  epithet  '  Bernese.'  The  key  to  this  apparent 
confusion  is  very  simple,  and  is  supplied  by  physical  geography. 
All  the  wholly  Vallaisan  peaks  stand  on  the  S.  side  of  the  great 
watershed  between  the  upper  Rhone  and  the  upper  Aar  valleys, 
while  all  the  wholly  Bernese  summits  rise  to  the  N.  of  that  water- 
shed, whether  forming  detached  groups,  or  (like  the  Silberhorn 
and  the  Eiger)  being  mere  spurs  or  buttresses. 

Therefore,  to  sum  up,  the  term  '  Bernese  Oberland '  is  wrong 
historically  and  politically,  but  is  in  agreement  with  physical 
geography,  which  makes  a  unity  of  the  entire  range  from  the 
Lake  of  Geneva  to  that  of  Lucerne.  The  epithet  '  Bernese ' 
is  due  to  the  predominance  of  Berne  in  the  Swiss  Confederation, 
for  its  most  dangerous  rival  in  this  matter,  the  Vallais,  did  not 
enter  the  Confederation  till  18 15,  while  Berne  (though  the  town 
did  not,  as  we  have  seen  in  Chapter  vii.,  gain  its  wide  dominions 
till  much  later)  became  a  member  as  early  as  1353. 

Keeping  still  to  questions  of  physical  geography,  let  us  note 
that  the  Bernese  Alps  belong  for  the  most  part  to  the  basin  of 
the  Rhine,  for  the  Aar,  the  typical  river  of  the  region  and  of 
Switzerland  in  general,  '  collects,'  before  joining  the  Rhine, 
both  the  Sarine  and  the  Reuss,  so  that  its  volume  at  the 
junction  is  said  to  exceed  considerably  that  of  the  Rhine  at 
this  point  in  its  course.  On  the  other  hand,  all  the  streams 
flowing  down  the  S.  slope  of  our  range  go  to  swell  the  Rhone, 
and  so  ultimately  reach  the  Mediterranean. 

Again,  as  is  usually  the  case  in  the  Alps,  the  valleys  (though 
not  the  glaciers)  on  the  S.  slope  of  our  range  are  short  and 
steep,  indeed  mere  mountain  glens,  save  the  beautiful  but 
little-visited  Lotschenthal.  On  the  N.  slope  we  have  much 
longer  and  more  fertile  valleys.  The  mere  names  of  Plan 
des  lies  and  Les  Plans  de  Frenieres,  at  one  end,  and  of 
Engelberg  (oddly  situated  politically  since  1816  in  the 
Obwalden  half  of  Unterwalden,  though  physically  within  the 
Nidwalden  half),  are  sufficient  proof  of  this  statement.     But  if 


320     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

any  scoffer  mocks,  he  has  only  to  think  of  the  upper  bit  of  the 
Sarine  valley  (with  Saanen,  Gsteig,  and  Lauenen),  or  of  the 
Simme  valley  (with  Lenk  and  Zweisimmen),  one  long  series 
of  magnificent  pastures,  or  of  the  main  Aar  valley,  with  its 
tributaries  of  the  Kander  (Kandersteg  and  Adelboden)  and  of 
the  Liitschine  (Grindelwald  and  Lauterbrunnen),  besides  the 
main  stream  itself  (with  Meiringen  and  Gadmen). 

Rivers  and  valleys  naturally  lead  one's  thoughts  towards 
glaciers.  Of  these  the  Bernese  Alps  have  enough  and  to 
spare,  for  does  not  Canton  Berne  rank  third  in  Switzerland 
with  1 11^  square  miles  of  glaciers?  It  is  also  helped  con- 
siderably, as  to  our  region,  by  Canton  Vallais,  which  (including 
of  course  the  main  chain  S.  of  the  Rhone  valley)  claims  no 
less  than  375  square  miles  of  ice  (at  present  we  need  not 
consider  the  138^  square  miles  belonging  to  the  Grisons),  and 
the  total  snow  area  in  Switzerland  is  about  yogf  square  miles. 
Then,  too,  our  region  can  boast  of  the  three  longest  glaciers  in 
the  Alps,  the  Great  Aletsch  (i6|-  miles),  the  Unteraar  and  the 
Fiescher  (each  10  miles),  these  being  all  wholly  within  the 
Vallais,  the  longest  '  Bernese '  glaciers  being  the  Gauli  (8  J 
miles),  and  the  Lower  Grindelwald  (6}  miles). 

Glaciers,  valleys,  and  rivers  mean  lakes,  and  what  more 
typical  Alpine  lakes,  each  in  its  way,  can  one  find  than  those 
of  Thun,  of  Oeschinen,  of  Engstlen,  of  Lauenen,  of  Miirjelen, 
of  the  Grimsel  ? 

And  if  we  turn  to  the  '  human  interest '  of  this  portion  of 
the  Alps,  no  one  can  complain  of  want  of  variety  and  of 
movement.  The  secular  struggle  between  the  town  of  Berne, 
ever  bent  on  extending  its  rule,  with  the  Vallais,  distracted  by 
internal  struggles,  was  largely  waged  on  some  of  the  higher 
passes  of  our  region,  such  as  the  Grimsel,  the  Lotschen,  and 
the  Sanetsch.  On  a  smaller  scale,  the  Austin  Canons  of 
Interlaken  slowly  but  surely  drew  the  Liitschine  valleys  into 
their  grasp,  destined  later  to  find  that  they  had  smoothed  the 
way  for  the  ambitious  town  of  Berne.  The  Benedictines  of 
Engelberg  were  more  busied  with  spiritual  work,  but  this  had 
to  be  coupled  with  the  necessity  of  trying,  though  fruitlessly, 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  321 

to  stem  the  advance  of  the  men  of  Uri  who  seized  the  best 
pastures  in  their  valley.  In  our  region,  too,  though  at  its  very 
extremity,  are  Pilatus,  with  its  famed  lake  (now  dried  up),  and 
its  legend  of  the  yearly  reappearance  of  Pontius  Pilate,  who 
had  drowned  himself  in  it.  In  another  order  of  matters,  the 
Riitli,  the  meadow  by  the  lake,  on  which  the  founders  of  Swiss 
independence  met,  is  in  the  'Bernese  Oberland,'  though, 
happily,  the  site  (Tell's  Chapel)  of  the  fond  invention  of  Tell's 
leap  is  on  the  other  side  of  the  lake. 

If  we  think  of  the  exploration  of  the  Alps  rather  than  of 
political  matters,  we  find  at  the  two  ends  of  our  region  two  of 
the  rare  peaks  that  are  known  certainly  to  have  been  climbed  in 
the  eighteenth  century — the  TitHs  in  i744)  and  the  Dent  de 
Morcles  in  1788.  A  little  later  we  have  the  remarkable  journeys 
through  the  glaciers  of  the  range  carried  out  in  1811-12  by  the 
Meyer  family,  of  Aarau,  resulting  in  the  opening  up  of  many 
glacier  passes,  as  well  as  the  conquest  of  two  out  of  the  three 
highest  summits,  the  Jungfrau  (181 1)  and  the  Finsteraarhorn 
(18 1 2).  Still  later,  we  have  the  scientific  observations  on  the 
Unteraar  glacier  made  by  Hugi,  by  Desor,  and  by  Agassiz,  a 
by-product  of  which  was  the  conquest  of  several  high  peaks, 
such  as  the  Ewigschneehorn  in  1841,  the  Gross  Lauteraarhorn 
in  1842,  the  Hasle  Jungfrau  and  the  Rosenhorn  peaks  of  the 
Wetterhorn  in  1844-5  (^^^  highest,  the  Mittelhorn,  was  captured 
by  a  Scotchman  in  1845).  In  1857  the  first  English  ascent  of 
the  Finsteraarhorn  played  an  important  part  in  the  preparations 
for  the  foundation  of  the  Alpine  Club,  which  actually  came  into 
existence  the  following  winter.  A  few  days  previous  to  the  ascent 
last  named  an  Englishman  had  conquered  the  Klein  Schreckhorn, 
while  in  the  following  years  his  compatriots  gathered  up  most  of 
the  great  Oberland  peaks  that  had  not  yet  felt  the  foot  of  man — 
so  the  Eiger  (1858),  the  Aletschhorn  and  the  Bietschhorn  (both 
in  1859),  the  Bliimlisalphorn  and  the  Oberaarhorn  (both  in  i860), 
the  Gross  Schreckhorn  (1861),  the  Gross  Fiescherhorn  (1862), 
the  Balmhorn  (1864),  the  Gross  Nesthorn  (1865),  and  the 
Gspaltenhorn  (1869),  besides  forcing  several  difficult  glacier 
passes,  among  which  were  the  Eigerjoch  (1859),  the  Jungfrau- 

X 


322     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

joch  and  the  Fiescherjoch  (both  in  1862),  the  Wetterliicke  and 
the  Roththalsattel  (both  in  1864). 

The  Bernese  Alps  have  thus  had  considerable  importance  in 
the  history  of  the  Alps,  and  have  brought  about  mightier 
changes  and  results  than  might  have  been  expected  in  the  case 
of  a  range  which  stands  aloof  from  the  main  watershed  of  the 
great  chain. 

9.  Lepontine  Alps. — It  was  practically  convenient  to  consider 
the  Bernese  Alps  (even  though  not  on  the  great  divide)  immedi- 
ately after  the  Pennines,  for  the  two  ranges  face  each  other 
across  the  upper  Rhone  valley.  But  we  must  now  return  to  the 
main  watershed,  and  resume  our  tale  with  a  notice  of  the  most 
westerly  portion  of  the  main  Central  Alps — the  Lepontine  Alps. 
Now  these  Alps  are  held  to  extend  from  the  Simplon  to  the 
Spliigen  Pass  (6946  ft.),  keeping  S.  of  the  Furka  Pass  (that 
separates  them  from  the  Bernese  Alps)  and  of  the  Oberalp  Pass 
(6719  ft.,  that  distinguishes  them  from  the  range  of  the  Todi). 
Now  the  very  name  of  '  Lepontines '  seems  to  exercise  a  curious 
effect  on  the  minds  of  many  persons,  as  it  appears  to  carry  a 
flavour  of  mystery  about  it,  and  this  is  even  more  the  case  if  one 
speaks  of  the  '  Adula  Alps,'  the  special  appellation  that  is  often 
given  to  the  E.  half  of  the  chain.  Yet  this  feeling  of  not  being 
on  speaking  terms  with  the  Lepontines  has  no  real  foundation, 
for  it  often  happens  that,  without  suspecting  it,  these  timorous 
travellers  actually  visit  the  Lepontines,  or  gaze  on  them  without 
being  aware  of  it.  Practically  no  wanderer  through  the  Alps  has 
never  crossed  over  or  burrowed  beneath  the  St.  Gotthard  Pass 
(6936  ft),  which  cuts  the  range  into  two  halves.  As  his  train 
thunders  down  from  Airolo  to  Bellinzona  by  that  most  amazing 
and  daring  of  all  railway  lines,  he  may  find  a  minute  free  to  con- 
sult his  Guide-book  (let  77ie  hope  that  it  is  a  Murray  and  not  a 
Bddeker).  It  will  inform  him  that  the  deep-cut  valley  down 
which  he  is  being  whirled  is  called  the  '  Val  Leventina,'  and  that 
is  but  the  modern  form  of  the  '  Vallis  Lepontina.'  Hence  he  is 
really  in  the  heart  of  the  Lepontines,  without  realising  it.  Again, 
if  when  he  has  ever  studied  the  view  towards  the  South,  either 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  323 

from  the  Belalp  or  from  the  Eggishorn,  he  cannot  fail  to  have 
noticed  the  long  mountain-chain  immediately  in  front  of  him, 
and  that  is  the  Lepontines,  though  possibly  he  may  pay  less 
attention  to  them  than  to  the  grander  Pennines,  to  see  which, 
however,  he  must  turn  his  eyes  far  to  the  right. 

The  Lepontines,  therefore,  are  neither  so  inaccessible  nor  so 
rarely  to  be  seen  as  is  not  infrequently  imagined.  But  the  two 
halves  of  the  chain  offer  curious  contrasts,  and  hence  are  some- 
times considered  as  forming  two  sections  of  the  Alps.  In  the  W. 
half,  one  of  the  first  things  that  strikes  one  is  that  the  tendency 
so  marked  in  the  case  of  the  Bernese  Alps,  that  the  glens  on  its 
S.  slope  should  be  short  and  steep,  is  reproduced  as  regards  the 
N.  slope  of  the  Lepontines.  Between  the  Simplon  and  the  St. 
Gotthard  there  is  but  a  single  glen  of  any  extent  on  that  slope, 
and  that  glen  is  the  only  one  which  is  permanently  inhabited. 
We  allude  to  the  valley  of  Binn,  that  opens  just  behind  Fiesch, 
and  is  so  conspicuous  from  the  Eggishorn.  It  is  reached  on 
that  side  through  a  fine,  rocky  gorge  which  in  winter  is  so 
dangerous  to  traverse  that  a  former  priest  of  Binn  ended  his 
letter  with  the  melancholy  signature,  '  Vicar  of  Binn,  near  the 
world '  {prope  mundu7}i).  Hence,  though  the  Binn  people  have 
always  belonged  to  the  Vallais,  their  relations  with  their  Italian 
neighbours  are  very  close,  whether  in  the  way  of  legitimate 
trading  or  of  smuggling.  Several  easy  passes  lead  over  in  that 
direction,  particularly  the  Albrun  (7907  ft.),  that  as  far  back  as 
1425  was  crossed  by  an  army  bent  on  the  conquest  of  the  Val 
d'Ossola.  For  this  reason,  Binn,  since  a  comfortable  little  inn 
was  opened  there  in  1883,  is  the  natural  headquarters  of  a 
traveller  in  these  parts,  and  all  the  neighbouring  peaks  can  be 
easily  attained  thence  in  the  day.  But  if,  with  this  exception, 
the  glens  on  the  Swiss  side  of  the  western  half  of  the  Lepontines 
are  short  and  steep,  the  contrary  is  the  case  on  the  Italian  slope. 
There  we  have  a  deeply-cut  and  very  well-marked  valley,  that  is 
watered  by  the  Toce  or  Tosa,  but  assumes,  after  it  has  been 
joined  (a  little  above  Domo  d'Ossola)  by  the  Doveria,  flowing 
from  the  Simplon  Pass,  the  better  known  name  of  the  Val 
d'Ossola,  the  historical  fortunes    of  which    were   set   forth    in 


324     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Chapter  vii.  above.  Close  to  the  head  of  this  valley  are  the 
magnificent  Tosa  Falls,  with  another  good  mountain  inn,  whence 
the  very  easy  glacier  Gries  Pass  (8098  ft.)  leads  over  to  the 
head  of  the  Vallais,  while  the  grassy  pass  of  San  Giacomo 
(7573  ^^•)  affords  access  to  the  Val  Bedretto,  that  joins  the  St. 
Gotthard  route  and  the  Val  Leventina  at  Airolo.  Two  mountain 
glens  descend  from  the  main  range  towards  the  Tosa,  those  of 
Val  Cairasca  and  of  Val  Devero,  both  now  boasting  of  small 
mountain  hotels,  built  on  the  highest  pastures  in  either  valley, 
those  respectively  of  the  Veglia  and  of  the  Devero  Alps.  The 
monarch  of  this  half  of  the  chain  is  the  Monte  Leone  (11,684 
ft.),  that  rises  just  E.  of  the  Simplon,  and  commands,  as  do 
most  summits  of  the  chain,  most  wonderful  views  of  the  Bernese 
Oberland  peaks,  while  (unlike  its  neighbours)  it  can  also  boast 
of  a  glorious  prospect  over  the  great  Lombard  lakes.  These  are 
not  seen  from  the  Blindenhorn  (11,103  ft.),  or  from  the  Basodino 
(10,749  ft.),  the  general  panorama  from  the  former  summit  far 
surpassing,  in  the  writer's  opinion,  that  to  be  obtained  from 
the  latter,  which  most  unjustly  enjoys  a  wider  reputation. 

Another  characteristic  of  the  western  half  of  the  Lepontines  is 
the  existence  in  the  middle  reach  (specially  known  as  the  Val 
Formazza  or  the  Pommat  valley)  of  the  upper  Tosa  valley  of  a 
most  interesting  Vallaisan  colony,  that  preserves  even  to  this 
day  its  German  dialect.  It  was  established  here  before  1253,  as 
in  that  year  an  offshoot  of  this  colony,  at  Bosco,  was  erected 
into  a  separate  parish,  so  that  the  original  settlers  probably 
came  from  the  Vallais  (perhaps  over  the  Gries  Pass)  in  the  early 
thirteenth  century,  or  possibly  even  earlier. 

The  mention  of  Bosco  may  serve  as  a  transition  to  our  notice 
of  the  eastern  half  of  the  Lepontines,  for  Bosco  is  a  hamlet  at 
the  head  of  one  of  the  glens  that  go  to  make  up  the  Val  Maggia, ' 
which,  with  its  tributaries,  and  its  neighbour,  the  Val  Verzasca, 
now  bears  the  name  of  the  '  Valleys  of  Locarno,'  as  they  all  con- 
verge towards  that  town,  that  is  built  at  the  northernmost  tip  of 
the  Lago  Maggiore.  The  hills  therein,  as  well  as  those  that  sur- 
round the  Lakes  of  Lugano  and  of  Como,  are  sometimes  distin- 
guished by  the  special  name  of  the  '  Lesser  Lepontines.'     Now 


ja 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  325 

these  valleys,  unlike  that  of  the  Tosa,  are  politically  Swiss  (since 
15 1 2)  as  are  their  neighbours  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  eastern  half 
of  the  Lepontines,  the  Val  Leventina  (permanently  since  1440) 
and  the  Val  Blenio,  with  Bellinzona  (held  since  1500) — all  these 
valleys,  with  the  Lugano  region,  forming  since  1803  the  Canton 
of  Ticino  or  Tessin,  or  '  Italian  Switzerland ' — and  the  Val 
Mesocco  (won  in  1480),  that  was  of  old  included  in  the  Raetian 
Leagues,  and  so  now  forms  part  of  the  Canton  of  the  Grisons. 
Thus,  while  most  of  the  S.  slope  of  the  western  Lepontines  is 
Italian,  the  whole  of  that  slope  in  the  case  of  the  eastern  Lepon- 
tines is  Swiss.  (Full  details  as  to  the  exact  causes  of  this  curious 
extension  of  Switzerland  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  Alps  will  be  found 
in  Chapters  vi.  and  vii.  above). 

There  is  one  point,  however,  in  which  the  two  halves  of  our 
region  resemble  each  other — the  settlements  of  thirteenth 
century  German-speaking  colonies  from  the  Vallais,  both  in  the 
Val  Formazza  and  around  the  sources  of  the  Rhine,  particularly 
those  of  the  main  or  Hinter  branch  of  that  famous  river.  This 
curious  preference  of  the  Vallaisans  for  the  Lepontine  Alps  does 
not  yet  seem  to  have  received  its  definitive  explanation,  though 
the  fact  of  the  settlements  is  certain  enough. 

The  remarkable  feature  as  to  these  colonies  at  the  sources  of 
the  Rhine  is  that  they  now  form  islands  in  the  midst  of  a 
Romonsch-speaking  population,  for  this  ancient  historical 
tongue  replaces  in  the  eastern  Lepontines  the  Vallaisan-German 
of  the  western  half,  of  course  on  the  N.  slope  only,  since  on  the 
S.  slope  in  both  halves  Italian  is  the  prevalent  language. 

In  the  midst  of  the  Lepontines  is  the  celebrated  St.  Gotthard 
Pass  and  group,  which,  it  is  well  known,  is  one  of  the  main 
sources  in  the  Alps  whence  great  rivers  flow  down.  Hence  the 
Lepontines,  though  able  to  claim  but  few  and  unimportant 
tributaries  of  the  Rhone,  can  claim  the  entire  course  of  all  three 
branches  of  the  Rhine,  above  Reichenau  (some  six  miles  W.  of 
Coire),  as  well  as  of  the  Tosa,  and  of  the  Ticino,  besides  the 
actual  sources,  though  not  much  more,  of  the  Reuss.  This 
extraordinary  wealth  of  water  accounts  for  the  odd  fact  (already 
pointed  out  in  Chapter  i.),  that  the  lower  peak  (9922  ft.)    of 


326     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  Wyttenwasserstock  (a  little  W.  of  the  St.  Gotthard  Pass) 
(like  the  Pizzo  Lunghino,  near  the  Maloja)  sends  streams  to 
three  seas,  in  this  case  to  the  Mediterranean  (through  the 
Rhone),  the  Hadriatic  (the  Tosa  and  the  Ticino  join  the  Po)  and 
the  North  Sea  (through  the  Reuss  and  the  Rhine). 

As  will  be  seen  from  our  list  of  Peaks  and  Passes  printed  in 
Appendix  i.,  many  of  the  highest  summits  of  the  Lepontines 
are  in  their  eastern  half,  though  the  loftiest,  the  Rheinwald- 
horn  (11,149  ft-)'  must  bow  to  the  Monte  Leone  (11,684  ft.) 
in  the  western  half.  These  summits  of  the  eastern  half  were, 
with  those  of  the  Range  of  the  Todi,  just  opposite,  the  scene 
of  the  long  -  continued  explorations  in  the  late  eighteenth 
and  early  nineteenth  centuries,  made  by  the  Benedictine  monk 
of  Disentis,  Father  Placidus  a  Spescha  (1752-1833),  whom  we 
commemorated,  as  one  of  the  early  pioneers  of  Alpine  climbing, 
in  Chapter  ix.  above.  Nor  should  we  omit  the  notable  fact 
that  the  Upper  or  Grey  League  (Ober  or  Grauer  Bund)  of  the 
Raetian  Confederation  included  practically  the  whole  of  the 
eastern  half  of  the  Lepontines,  as  has  been  duly  set  forth  in 
Chapter  vii.  The  extension  of  this  League  over  the  S.  slope  of 
the  Alpine  chain  was  greatly  facilitated  by  the  easy  passes  which 
lead  over  thither  from  the  eastern  half  of  the  Lepontines,  such  as 
the  Lukmanier  (6289  ft.),  a  pass  which  has  always  been  cast 
into  the  shade  by  its  neighbours,  the  San  Bernardino  or  Vogel- 
berg  (6769  ft.) — the  entire  route  over  both  these  passes  has  the 
great  advantage  of  being  (at  least  since  1500)  within  Swiss 
territory — as  well  as  the  Spliigen  (6946  ft.),  of  which  the  S. 
slope  was  Swiss  (as  forming  officially  part  of  the  Valtelline)  from 
1512  to  1797. 

10.  The  Range  of  the  Todi. — Just  as  the  Bernese  Alps  and 
the  western  half  of  the  Lepontine  Alps  rise  opposite  each  other 
on  either  side  of  the  upper  Rhone  valley,  so  do  the  eastern  half 
of  the  Lepontines  and  the  Range  of  the  Todi,  the  Vorder  Rhine 
valley  serving  as  the  limit  between  them.  Our  district  thus 
extends  from  the  Oberalp  Pass,  on  the  S.,  to  the  Klausen  Pass 
(6404  ft.),  on  the  N.     It  forms  rather  a  long-drawn-out  chain, 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  327 

though  not  very  wide,  save  a  little  to  the  N.W.  of  its  highest 
summit,  where  the  considerable  snow-fields  of  the  Hiifi  and 
Clariden  glaciers  close  respectively,  the  Maderanerthal  in  Uri, 
and  at  the  W.  end  of  the  group,  and  the  Sandthal  in  Glarus. 
The  main  ridge  of  the  group  is  the  boundary  between  the  Grisons 
and  Glarus,  while  theTamina  and  Weisstannen  glens,  at  the  N.E. 
end  of  the  district,  are  in  the  Canton  of  St.  Gall.  On  a  small 
scale,  our  range  resembles  the  Bernese  Alps,  in  being  wholly 
Swiss,  though  divided  among  several  Cantons,  here  four  in 
number,  there  seven.  Like  the  Bernese  Oberland,  our  range 
forms  one  of  the  great  outliers  of  the  Alps,  while  its  culminating 
summit,  the  Todi  (11,887  ft.),  is  the  most  northerly  important 
peak  in  Switzerland.  It  thus  looks  naturally  towards  the  north, 
on  which  slope  all  its  principal  glaciers  (generally  called  '  Firn  ' 
or  '  neve '  on  the  Swiss  Government  map)  flow  down.  The 
Todi  is  the  highest  snowy  summit  which  is  visible  from  Zurich, 
so  that  one  seems  to  be  getting  here  into  a  new  part  of  Switzer- 
land. Very  fitly,  therefore,  does  the  river  that  passes  through 
Ziirich,  the  Limmat,  take  its  source  in  the  snows  of  the  Todi, 
though  there  it  bears  the  name  of  Linth.  Notwithstanding  these 
northern  inclinations,  our  range  was  first  explored  from  the 
Grisons  side,  though  these  explorations  were  practically  the 
work  of  a  single  man,  the  Benedictine  monk,  Placidus  a  Spescha 
(1752-1833),  who  plays  so  conspicuous  a  part  in  the  Alpine 
history  of  this  group  and  of  the  eastern  half  of  the  Lepontines. 
Forty  years  later,  Georg  Hoffmann  (1808 -1858),  of  Basel, 
devoted  himself  to  the  peaks  of  the  Maderanerthal.  The  first 
Ziirich  man  who  undertook  the  exploration  of  this  group  was 
Johannes  Hegetschweiler  (i 789-1 839),  who  tried  the  Todi  from 
the  Glarus  side  as  early  as  1820  and  1822.  As  is  well  known, 
it  was  first  successfully  climbed  in  1824  by  two  Grisons  chamois 
hunters  sent  out  by  Father  Placidus,  the  ascent  of  the  upper 
snows  being  made  on  the  Glarus  side,  though  they  had  been 
reached  by  the  Porta  da  Spescha  from  the  Grisons.  In  1837 
the  most  prominent  point  of  the  Todi  on  the  N.  side,  the  Glarner 
Todi  (11,815  ft-)>  ^^s  nearly  attained  by  some  Glarus  peasants, 
though  the  actually  highest  point  was  not  touched  till  it  was 


328     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

visited  in  1853  by  Herren  G.  Studer  (of  Berne),  J.  J.  Siegfried  and 
M.  Ulrich  (both  of  Zurich).  Oddly  enough,  the  cuhninating 
point  of  the  Todi  that  lies  back,  when  looked  at  from  the  N.E., 
was  not  climbed  direct  by  the  Glarus  side  till  1861.  Soon  after, 
the  district  became  the  scene  in  1863  of  the  first  activities  in  the 
way  of  climbing  of  the  infant  Swiss  Alpine  Club,  the  '  Section 
Todi '  being  one  of  the  most  energetic  among  the  earUest  sections 
of  the  club.  Nowadays  the  Todi  range  is  the  favourite  resort 
(especially  on  Saturdays  and  Sundays)  of  young  Zurich  climbers, 
very  few  expeditions  being  made  from  the  Orisons  side.  To 
English  mountaineers  the  best-known  bit  of  the  region  is  the 
Maderanerthal,  where  a  comfortable  Alpine  inn,  built  at  a  con- 
siderable height,  serves  as  a  good  starting-point.  This  beautiful 
glen  is  inhabited  in  summer  only,  apart  from  the  small  hamlets 
of  Bristen  and  of  Oolzeren,  both  near  its  entrance.  Its  name  is 
said  to  be  derived  from  a  sixteenth  century  Italian  miner,  one 
Madrano,  who  worked  iron  mines  in  the  hollow  between  the 
Grosse  and  the  Kleine  Windgalle.  This  nearly  uninhabited 
glen  is  balanced  by  another,  the  Calfeisen  valley,  at  the  N.E. 
extremity  of  the  range,  now  visited  only  in  summer  (but  a 
single  house  is  permanently  inhabited)  for  the  sake  of  its 
pastures,  particularly  those  of  Sardona  at  its  head :  it  was 
occupied  in  the  first  half  of  the  fourteenth  century  by  another 
of  those  enterprising  Oerman-speaking  colonies  from  the  Vallais. 
The  Calfeisen  colonists  are  first  mentioned  in  1346,  but  the  date 
of  their  immigration  is  not  known,  even  approximately.  This 
colony  still  flourished  as  late  as  1518,  but  was  then  no  doubt 
gradually  absorbed  by  their  Romonsch  neighbours,  though 
various  Teutonic  place-names  still  survive  as  proofs  of  its  former 
existence.  It  is  certainly  odd  to  find  an  Italian  miner  at  one  end 
of  our  range  and  a  set  of  German-speaking  Vallaisans  at  the  other. 
The  Calfeisen  valley  belonged  to  the  powerful  and  wealthy 
Benedictine  monastery  of  Pfafers  (720-1838),  for  our  glen  is 
simply  the  uppermost  bit  of  the  Tamina  valley,  which  lower 
down  forms  the  famous  Gorge  of  Pfafers.  Another  fine  gorge 
in  the  region  is  the  amazing  Limmerntobel,  cut  deep  at  the 
foot  of  the  precipices  of  the  Selbsanft,  and  joining  (close  to  the 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  329 

Pantenbriicke,  above  the  Baths  of  Stachelberg)  the  fine,  though 
less  surprising,  cleft  in  which  the  Linth  flows.  Mention  must 
be  made  of  the  great  landslip  of  1881  above  Elm,  on  the  N.  side 
of  the  range,  when  a  portion  of  the  slate  quarries  gave  way,  and 
killed  one  hundred  and  fifteen  persons,  besides  inflicting  great 
material  damage.  Not  far  from  these  quarries,  and  conspicuous 
from  Elm,  is  the  singular  hole  pierced  by  nature  right  through 
the  main  range,  and  called  '  Martinsloch.'  This  most  curious 
natural  phenomenon  is  easily  reached.  It  is  72  ft.  high  on  the 
Glarus  side,  and  49  ft.  on  the  Orisons  side,  with  a  breadth  of 
46  ft.,  and  the  sun  shines  through  it  on  several  days  in  the 
year.  But,  in  the  writer's  opinion,  the  pearl  of  the  range  is  the 
hamlet  of  Brigels,  nestling  on  its  splendid  shelf  of  pasture,  and 
raised  high  above  the  bed  of  the  Vorder  Rhine  and  Ilanz,  while 
surrounded  by  glorious  forests,  backed  by  the  fantastic  crags 
of  the  Kavestrau  rock  needles,  and  commanding  an  almost 
unlimited  panorama  towards  the  peaks  that  rise  round  the 
sources  of  the  main  branch  of  the  Rhine. 

1 1.  The  Alps  of  North-East  Switzerland. — As  a  general  rule, 
it  is  best,  when  describing  the  principal  groups  of  the  Alps, 
and  without  attempting  to  make  any  very  minute  divisions,  to 
include  the  foot-hills  in  the  loftier  mountain  mass  of  which 
they  form  the  outliers.  But  in  two  cases  at  least  it  seems 
desirable  to  make  an  exception  to  this  rule,  and  to  set  up 
separate  sections  for  the  description  of  these  relatively  low 
mountain  ridges — viz.  the  cases  of  the  Alps  of  North-East 
Switzerland,  and  of  those  of  Bavaria,  the  Vorarlberg,  and 
Salzburg  (see  Group  15  below).  Our  reason  is  that  in  both 
cases,  amid  many  minor  summits  and  smiling  pastoral  valleys, 
there  rise  summits  which  still  bear  perpetual  snow,  and  which 
form  islets,  as  it  were,  that  have  no  direct  connection  with 
loftier  snow-bearing  ranges. 

As  regards  the  Alps  of  North-East  Switzerland  the  best  limit 
seems  to  be  that  formed  by  the  Klausen  Pass  (6404  ft.),  which 
leads  from  Altdorf  to  Glarus,  placing  all  the  mountains  N.  of 
that  limit  in  our  group,  while  those  to  its  S.  have  been  noticed 


330     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

above  under  the  head  of  the  'Range  of  the  Todi.'  In  our 
group  we  may  distinguish  perhaps  four  minor  groups.  Two  of 
these  may  be  dismissed  briefly,  as  they  lack  perpetual  snow. 
One  is  formed  by  the  two  sharp  rocky  cones  of  the  Mythen 
(6240  ft.),  that  are  so  conspicuous  from  the  Lake  of  Lucerne, 
towering  grandly  above  Schwyz,  and  its  port  of  Brunnen.  If  a 
path  had  not  been  blasted  out  of  the  rock  to  the  summit  of  the 
higher  of  the  two,  the  ascent  would  be  difficult,  and  it  would 
have  been  impossible  either  (as  is  the  case)  to  build  a  little  inn 
up  there,  or  for  its  tenant  to  have  spent  some  thirty  summers  in 
it.  The  other  minor  group  is  that  of  the  Kurfiirsten  (7576  ft.), 
or  '  Seven  Electors '  (that  is,  to  the  crown  of  the  Holy  Roman 
Empire),  which  rise  like  sentinels  in  fine  precipices  to  the  N.  of 
the  Lake  of  Walenstadt,  and  form  the  boundary  ridge  between  that 
lake  and  the  upper  Thur  valley,  or  the  '  Toggenburg.'  This  ridge 
sinks  on  the  W.  to  the  Speer  (641 1  ft.),  while  on  the  E.  it  rises 
a  little  to  the  slightly  higher  summits  of  the  Faulfirst  (7825  ft.) 
and  the  Alvier  (7695  ft.),  which  crown  the  spur  separating  the 
Seez  glen  from  the  main  Rhine  valley.  Of  these  seven  summits 
of  the  Kurfiirsten  the  two  highest  points,  the  Hinterruck  and 
the  Kasernruck,  are  the  most  singular,  because,  though  very 
steep  on  the  S.  side  (in  mist  it  is  nearly  impossible  to  find  the 
way  without  minute  local  knowledge),  on  the  N.E.  slope, 
towards  the  Toggenburg,  they  form  gently  incUned  pastures  of 
the  easiest  kind.  Thus  once  upon  a  time  the  writer,  having 
groped  in  a  mist  for  many  hours  at  the  S.  foot  of  this  range, 
succeeded  at  last  in  gaining  its  crest,  and  was  then  much  startled 
by  meeting  cows  tranquilly  wandering  about,  instead  of  the  fresh 
precipices  which  he  had  expected  to  encounter. 

More  interesting  to  mountaineers  are  the  two  other  minor 
groups,  those  of  Gldrnisck  (9580  ft.)  and  of  the  Santis.  Both 
rejoice  not  merely  in  fairly  extensive  snow-fields  (no  true  glaciers), 
but  in  remarkably  imposing  rock  precipices,  which  at  first 
sight  promise  a  hard  scramble,  though  they  are  easily  turned. 
The  grand  spur  of  the  Vorder  Glamisch  (7648  ft.),  that  over- 
shadows the  little  town  of  Glarus,  hides  the  loftier  summits  of 
the  chain,  which  he  some  way  back.     Still  farther  to  the  S.W. 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  331 

is  a  most  desolate  tract  of  country,  composed  largely  of  riven 
limestone  plateaux,  pierced  with  many  loathsome  holes  ready  to 
engulf  unwary  travellers,  and  culminating  in  the  Boser  Faulen 
(9200  ft.),  and  the  Silberstock  or  Ortstock  (8824  ft.).  This 
barren  region,  that  stretches  towards  the  head  of  the  Muota 
valley,  has  a  most  repulsive  appearance  from  afar  off,  and  would 
probably  not  improve  on  nearer  acquaintance.  Glarnisch  itself 
is  easily  reached  by  way  of  the  surprisingly  large  snow-field 
that  fills  the  hollow  enclosed  by  its  two  higher  summits.  The 
panorama  should  be  very  fine,  but  the  writer  has  always  had 
hard  luck  on  this  peak,  once  reaching  it  in  mist,  then  seeing 
nothing  and  hearing  only  the  railway  whistle  at  Glarus  far  below, 
and  on  several  other  occasions  being  prevented  from  even  reach- 
ing the  Club  hut,  since,  as  soon  as  he  approached  the  region,  bad 
weather  set  in. 

The  Sdntis  (8216  ft.),  rightly  called  the  Hohe  Santis,  though 
lower  than  Glarnisch,  is  a  far  more  extraordinary  range.  Though 
crowned  by  a  meteorological  Observatory  and  a  fair  mountain 
Hotel,  neither  can  be  reached  save  after  mounting  one  of  two 
by  no  means  tiny  snow-fields  and  a  rock  staircase.  That  is  the 
easy  route  up,  but  there  are  others  which  are  more  painful.  If, 
as  did  the  writer  in  1905,  one  drives  from  the  Toggenburg  to 
Appenzell  over  the  rolling  downs  to  the  N.W.  of  the  Santis,  that 
range  stands  up  most  grandly,  with  its  gaunt  pale  limestone 
precipices  relieved  against  the  blue  sky,  and  one  can  hardly 
believe  this  imposing  chain  is  really  600  ft.  lower  than  the  well- 
known  Faulhorn,  behind  Grindelwald.  The  unexpected  grandeur 
of  the  Santis  is  in  part  due  to  its  remarkably  isolated  position, 
just  on  the  rim  of  the  higher  Alps.  The  writer  once  enjoyed 
an  amazing  sunset  from  its  summit,  the  clouds  being  blood-red, 
and  that  colour  being  reflected  on  the  earth,  as  far  as  the  flame- 
tinted  Lake  of  Constance,  across  the  hills  that  gradually  sink  in 
height  somewhat  like  the  waves  of  a  great  green  sea.  As  on  the 
Besimauda,  in  the  Maritime  Alps,  years  before,  he  realised  how 
the  Alps  break  down  into  the  plains,  the  waves  becoming  smaller 
and  smaller  as  they  gain  more  tranquil  regions.  Another  char- 
acteristic of  the  Santis  range  is  the  number   of  Alpine  lakes. 


332     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

hidden  away  in  the  deep  narrow  glens  that  seam  its  N.E.  flank. 
The  waters  of  these  tarns  make  all  the  greater  effect  by  the  con- 
trast they  afford  to  the  pale  grey  cliffs  and  stony  slopes  that  hem 
them  in.  In  thinking  of  the  Santis  one  must  mention  by  the 
way  that  quaint  little  seventeenth  century  chapel  of  Wildkirchli 
(the  '  wild  chapel '),  hidden  away  in  its  shadowy  cave,  that  has 
been  hollowed  out  by  Nature  in  the  cliffs  of  the  N.E.  extremity 
of  the  Santis  range.  Always  striking  and  picturesque,  even  when 
viewed  from  below,  it  gains  much  local  colour  on  the  first  Sunday 
in  July,  when  the  Feast  of  the  Guardian  Angels  (the  chapel  is 
dedicated  to  St.  Michael)  is  locally  kept,  and  the  whole  mountain- 
side resounds  with  the  cries  of  the  Appenzellers,  who,  when 
jodelling,  bark  like  dogs.  One  feels  that  Appenzell  and  the 
Santis  still  keep  those  traits  which  distinguish  this  region  so 
delightfully  from  tourist-overrun  districts  away  to  the  S.W. 
The  writer  has  visited  Appenzell  several  times,  and  came  away 
on  each  occasion  with  a  sentiment  of  deeper  thankfulness  that 
primitive  simpUcity  still  reigns  in  the  land  that,  above  all,  is  the 
centre  of  primitive  democracy,  and  whose  citizens  attend  the 
great  annual  Lands gemeinde  or  Assembly  with  sword  girded  on 
thigh,  like  their  forefathers.  The  local  costumes,  too,  are  still 
kept  up,  even  to  some  extent  on  week-days,  though  the  canary- 
coloured  shorts  and  the  scarlet  waistcoats  of  the  herdsmen  are 
not  a  patch  on  the  marvels  of  the  festival  attire  of  the  women, 
on  such  a  great  occasion  as  the  striking  procession  on  the  Feast 
of  the  Assumption  (August  15)  through  the  streets  of  the  little 
town-village  of  Appenzell. 


12.  Bernina  Alps. — We  must  now  return  to  the  Spliigen  Pass, 
which  we  left  in  Section  9,  and  study  the  Alpine  chain  that 
stretches  thence  to  the  Reschen  Scheideck  Pass  which  marks  the 
end  of  the  Central  Alps.  Here  two  topographical  difficulties 
confront  us  at  once,  and  we  have  to  make  a  choice  between 
them.  The  range  running  eastwards  from  the  Spliigen  forms  part 
of  the  Albula  group,  but  when  it  attains  a  point  near  the  Maloja 
Pass  (5935  ft.),  the  main  watershed  bends  S.E.  and  continues 
along  the  crest  of  the  Bernina  Alps.     In  this  way  the  greater 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  333 

portion  of  the  Albula  group  is  not  on  the  main  divide,  while  it 
is  continued  by  the  Silvretta  group,  so  that  it  is  practically  most 
convenient  to  consider  these  two  mountain  masses  after  the 
Bernina  Alps.  On  the  other  hand,  the  W.  wing  of  the  Bernina  Alps 
(we  mean  the  range  S.W.  of  the  Muretto  Pass)  is  a  mere  spur,  for 
the  great  watershed  does  not  touch  the  Bernina  Alps  till  a  little 
to  the  E.  of  the  Muretto  Pass.  Thus  whichever  alternative  we 
select,  it  is  inevitable  that  a  portion  of  our  range  will  not  be  on 
the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps.  In  this  perplexity  let  us  give 
the  preference  to  the  Bernina  Alps,  which  are  much  loftier  than 
the  Albula  group,  and  of  which  a  much  more  extensive  section 
is  really  on  the  Alpine  watershed. 

A  glance  at  the  map  shows  that  when  the  main  range  resumes 
its  E.  direction,  after  a  short  S.  diversion  from  the  Spliigen,  it  is 
faced  for  a  long  distance  by  another,  which  runs  parallel  to  it, 
the  general  direction  being  N.E.  Between  them  lie  two  great 
mountain  valleys  or  trenches  which  at  some  distant  period 
probably  formed  but  one — the  Val  BregagUa  (watered  by  the 
Maira)  and  the  Engadine,  or  upper  (Swiss)  portion  of  the  valley 
of  the  Inn.  The  more  northerly  of  these  two  ranges  is  that  of 
the  Albula,  continued  by  that  of  the  Silvretta,  while  the  more 
southerly  forms  the  Bernina  Alps,  to  the  S.  of  which  is  another 
great  valley,  the  Valtelline,  also  roughly  parallel  to  those  just 
mentioned. 

Now  in  our  sense  the  Bernina  Alps  stretch  from  near  the  head 
of  the  Lake  of  Como  right  away  to  the  Reschen  Scheideck 
(4902  ft.)  and  the  Stelvio  Passes  (9055  ft.).  Like  the  Bernese 
Oberland,  they  form  a  central  mass,  flanked  by  two  wings,  the 
Muretto  (8389  ft.)  and  the  Bernina  Passes  (7645  ft.)  forming  the 
limits  that  mark  off  the  central  mass  from  its  outliers.  This 
central  mass  is  the  Bernina  group /ar  excellence,  its  name  being 
taken  from  the  pass,  and  not  vice  versa  as  is  sometimes  imagined. 
It  is  the  lofty  snowy  range  so  well  known,  at  least  by  sight,  to  all 
visitors  to  the  Upper  Engadine,  though  its  peaks  are  not  as  much 
visited  as  is  usual  in  the  case  of  a  great  mountain  group.  On 
the  N.  slope  two  great  glaciers  flow  down  majestically,  the  more 
westerly,  that  of  Roseg  (swollen  by  its  neighbour,  the  Tschierva) 


334     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

ending  in  the  Roseg  glen  that  terminates  close  to  Pontresina. 
The  more  easterly  glen  is  all  but  entirely  occupied  by  the 
Morteratsch  glacier,  and  ends  some  way  above  Pontresina.  Now 
very  nearly  at  the  head  of  these  two  great  glaciers,  yet  a  little  on 
the  Swiss  side  of  the  watershed,  rises  Piz  Bernina  (13,304  ft.), 
the  monarch  of  the  group,  and  the  loftiest  summit  in  the  Alps 
E.  of  a  line  drawn  from  the  Simplon  Pass  up  the  upper  Rhone 
valley  and  then  over  the  Grimsel  Pass — in  short,  E.  of  the 
Pennines,  on  the  main  watershed,  and  of  the  central  mass  of 
the  Bernese  Alps,  on  the  more  northerly  line.  Hence  Piz 
Bernina  is  remarkable,  as  it  surpasses  not  merely  every  peak  in 
the  Eastern  Alps,  but  also  all  those  in  the  Central  Alps,  save 
in  the  case  of  the  Bernese  Oberland.  But  it  is  not  very  much 
higher  than  its  immediate  neighbours,  so  that  it  does  not  make 
so  deep  an  impression  on  the  mind  of  the  spectator  as  might  be 
expected  from  its  really  great  height.  The  peak,  however,  has 
another,  though  less  permanent,  claim  to  notice.  Its  first  ascent 
was  made  as  far  back  as  1850  by  Herr  J.  Coaz  (b.  1822),  who 
climbed,  in  the  course  of  his  journeys  as  one  of  the  Federal  map 
surveyors,  many  other  peaks  in  and  around  the  Engadine,  one 
as  early  as  1845.  He  still  survives,  hale  and  hearty,  the  Nestor 
of  living  climbers,  though  nearly  fifty-eight  years  have  elapsed 
since  he  conquered  Piz  Bernina. 

To  the  S.  of  the  main  mass  is  a  considerable  mountain  district, 
closed  at  its  head  by  several  great  glaciers,  those  of  Scerscen,  of 
Fellaria,  and  of  Verona,  the  waters  flowing  from  which  descend 
through  various  glens  that  unite  to  form  the  Val  Malenco,  down 
which  runs  the  track  from  the  Muretto  Pass  to  Sondrio,  the  capital 
of  the  fertile  Valtelline.  This  region  between  the  Bernina  main 
range  and  the  Valtelline  is  wholly  Italian,  but  is  more  rarely 
visited  and  explored  than  perhaps  any  district  in  the  High  Alps, 
save  perhaps  that  which  extends  S.E.  of  the  Tour  du  Grand  St. 
Pierre  in  the  Eastern  Graians. 

To  the  S.W.  of  the  Muretto  Pass  the  W.  wing  of  the  Bernina 
Alps  is  about  equally  divided  now  between  Switzerland  and  Italy, 
though,  when  the  Valtelline  was  held  by  the  Grisons  from  1 5 1 2 
to  1797,  it  was,  in  a  sense,  wholly  Swiss.     Hence  it  bears  the 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  335 

double  name  of  the  '  Bregaglia  district,'  and  of  the  '  Mountains 
of  Val  Masino,'  the  chief  glen  on  its  S.  slope.  It  is  composed 
of  a  fine  series  of  granitic  peaks,  divided  from  each  other  by  two 
steep  and  narrow  glaciers  (those  of  Bondasca  and  Albigna),  and 
a  much  longer  though  much  more  level  field  of  ice,  known  as  the 
Forno  glacier,  the  stream  from  which  descends  direct  to  the 
Maloja  Pass.  Several  easy  smugglers'  passes  cross  this  range, 
while  others  have  been  forced  of  recent  years,  but  the  explora- 
tion of  the  higher  summits  of  the  group  did  not  begin  till 
as  late  as  1862,  and  has  to  a  great  extent  been  the  work  of 
perhaps  only  half-a-dozen  climbers.  The  loftiest  summit  on 
the  divide  of  the  W.  wing  (though  not,  be  it  remembered,  the 
main  divide  of  the  Alps)  is  the  Cima  di  Castello  (11,155  ft.), 
though  much  better  known  are  the  twin  summits  of  the  Piz 
Cengalo  (11,070  ft.)  and  of  the  Piz  Badile  (10,863  ft.),  which 
make  such  a  grand  show  when  seen  from  above  St.  Moritz  across 
the  broad  opening  of  the  Maloja.  The  culminating  point  of  the 
entire  region  is,  however,  the  Monte  della  Disgrazia  (12,067  ft.), 
which  rises  as  a  great  spur  on  the  Italian  side,  and  therefore  is 
comparatively  unknown,  although  in  itself  a  magnificent  peak. 
All  the  four  summits  named  were  first  conquered  by  English 
climbers  between  1862  and  1867. 

Let  us  now  turn  our  attention  to  the  E.  wing  of  the  Bernina 
Alps,  that  namely  extending  N.E.  of  the  Bernina  Pass,  till  it 
touches  the  Tyrol  at  the  Reschen  Scheideck  and  the  Stelvio 
Passes.  It  is  a  wild  and  strange,  though  very  interesting  region, 
especially  from  the  historical  point  of  view.  It  is  made  up  in 
part  of  the  valley  of  Livigno,  which  sends  its  waters  to  the  Lower 
Engadine.  Situated  on  the  N.  slope  of  the  main  watershed  of  the 
Alps,  the  fate  of  this  valley  has  always  been  linked  with  that  of 
the  county  of  Bormio,  of  which  the  other  half,  W.  of  Bormio 
itself,  consists  of  the  glens  which  give  rise  to  the  infant  Adda. 
Now,  as  the  county  of  Bormio  has  for  ages  formed  part  of  the 
Valtelline,  it  follows  that  Livigno  has  had  the  same  historical 
destiny  as  that  great  valley,  so  that  while  it  was  Rsetian  from 
1512  to  1797,  it  became  in  1859  part  of  Italy.  Thus,  with 
certain  districts  in  the  Maritime  Alps  and  the  Val  di  Lei  (simply 


336     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

a  pasture  valley),  it  is  the  only  fragment  of  present-day  Italy 
which  lies  N.  of  the  Alpine  watershed.  To  redress  the  balance, 
as  it  were,  another  glen  included  in  our  region,  that  of  Miinster, 
is,  at  any  rate  in  its  upper  reach,  politically  Swiss  since  1762, 
although  it  is  on  the  S.  slope  of  the  main  chain.  Thus  we  have 
the  curious  anomaly  (noticed  in  Chapters  vi.  and  vii.  above) 
that  ItaUan-speaking  Livigno  is  politically  Italian,  though  the 
Spol  joins  the  Inn,  while  Ladin-speaking  Miinster  is  Swiss, 
though  the  Ram  is  an  afifiuent  of  the  Adige. 

The  best-known  summit  in  the  E.  wing  is  undoubtedly  the 
Piz  Languard  (10,716  ft),  the  well-known  belvedere  of  Pontre- 
sina.     It  rises  at  the  extreme  S.W.  extremity  of  our  district,  but 
is  surpassed  in  point  of  height  by  a  number  of  other  peaks,  which 
stand  far  away  to  the  E.  and  S.E.,  and  form,  as  it  were,  small, 
semi-detached  groups ;  such  are  the  Cima  di  Piazzi  (11,283  ft-)> 
the  Cima  Viola  (11,103  ft.),  and  the  Cima  di  Saoseo  (10,752  ft.), 
all  situated  a  little  to  the  S.W.  of  Bormio.     More  to  the  N.  are 
the  Corno  di  Campo  (10,844  ft-)'  Piz  Quatervals  (10,348  ft.), 
and  Piz  Murtarol  (10,424  ft.),  while  beyond  the  Ofen  Pass  (7071 
ft.)  are  Piz  Plavna  da  daint  (10,414  ft.),  Piz  Tavrii  (10,394  ft.), 
Piz   Pisoc   (10,427    ft.),    Piz   Lischanna   (10,204  ft.),   and   Piz 
Sesvenna  (10,568  ft.):  near  the  Stelvio  are  Piz  Umbrail  (9955 
ft.),  close  to  the   historical  pass  (8242  ft.)  of  that   name,    the 
secular  rival  of  the  Stelvio  (9055  ft.) — they  are  traversed  by  two 
of  the  three  highest  carriage  roads  in  the  Alps  (they  are  separated, 
in  this  point,  by  the  Col  du  Galibier,  8721  ft.,  in  the  Dauphine 
Alps) — and  the  Dreisprachenspitze  (9328  ft.),  the  knoll,  where 
meet  the  Hmits  of  the  German,  Italian,  and  Ladin  tongues,  as 
well  as  the  actual  political   frontiers  of  Switzerland,  Italy,  and 
Austria.     Indeed  the  E.  wing  of  the  Bernina  Alps  offers  a  series 
of  fascinating  puzzles  to  those  who  delight  in  unravelling  com- 
plicated   problems,    for    its    physical,    political,  and    linguistic 
characteristics  overlap  in  a   bewildering   fashion.      It   requires 
detailed  local  knowledge  indeed  to  be  able  to  trace  (see  Chap- 
ter VII.  above)  the  exact  line  of  the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps 
between  the  Bernina  and  Reschen  Scheideck  Passes,  while  other 
entanglements  will  be  met  with  on  the  way.     Perhaps  this  is 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  337 

one  reason  why  our  region  is  little  visited  save  in  the  case  of  the 

peaks  that  overhang  the  Engadine  (Upper  or  Lower),  though  it 
boasts  of  many  attractions,  picturesque  and  historical,  even 
though  they  may  not  be  absolutely  of  the  first  rank. 

13.  Albula  Group. — Under  this  name  (taken  from  that  of  its  now 
best-known  pass,  beneath  which  the  railway  tunnel  connecting 
the  Engadine  for  the  first  time  with  the  outer  world  by  a  quick 
and  easy  route  was  opened  in  1903)  a  lengthy  range  stretches 
from  the  Spliigen  to  the  Maloja,  and  the  Fliiela  Passes  (7838  ft.), 
that  mark  it  off  respectively  from  the  Bernina  Alps,  and  from 
the  Silvretta  group.  As  noted  in  the  preceding  section,  it 
forms  the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps  till  near  the  Maloja,  but 
then  becomes  merely  a  lateral  range  that  limits  the  Engadine 
on  the  N.W. 

Three  deep-sunk  valleys,  divided  from  each  other  by  four 
mountain  ridges,  make  up  our  region — the  valleys  being  those 
of  Avers  and  Oberhalbstein, — both  leading  from  the  Hinter 
Rhine  valley  to  the  Upper  Engadine,  the  former  by  the  For- 
cellina  Pass  (8770  ft.)  combined  with  the  Forcella  di  Lunghino 
(8645  ft.),  and  the  latter  by  the  Julier  Pass  (7504  ft.) — and  the 
Albula  glen  (a  tributary  of  the  Rhine),  through  which  a  carriage 
road  over,  and  a  tunnel  beneath,  the  Albula  Pass  (7595  ft.)  give 
access  to  Ponte  in  the  Upper  Engadine. 

As  a  valley  must  by  the  nature  of  things  be  enclosed  by  two 
ridges,  the  first  and  second  of  our  four  ridges  surround  that  of 
Avers.  Of  that  singular  glen  we  spoke  in  Chapter  vi.,  for  it 
presents  most  remarkable  political,  linguistic,  and  historical 
peculiarities,  though  its  population  only  amounts  to  three 
hundred  and  sixty-six  souls.  To  us  here  it  is  most  interesting, 
because  at  its  head  is  the  hamlet  of  Juf,  which  enjoys  the  dis- 
tinction of  being  the  loftiest  permanently  inhabited  village  in  the 
Alps,  as  its  twenty-four  inhabitants  live  at  a  height  of  no  less  than 
6998  ft.  Just  at  the  point  where  a  gorge  separates  the  two 
halves  of  the  Avers  glen,  a  torrent  rushes  in  from  the  Val  di  Lei, 
a  pasture  valley  descending  from  the  most  westerly  of  our  four 
ridges,  so  that  this  glen  (politically  Itahan,  though  situated  on 
y 


338     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

the  N.  slope  of  the  Alps)  sends  its  waters  to  the  Rhine ;  the  facts 
that  its  lower  reach  forms  a  savage  gorge,  while  an  easy  pass 
connects  it  with  Chiavenna,  probably  account  for  its  curious 
political  position,  though,  like  Livigno  (mentioned  in  the  last 
section),  it  was  Rcetian  from  151 2  to  1797,  and  only  became 
Italian  in  1859.  It  is  an  even  longer  glen  than  its  neighbours 
of  Madris  and  Bregalga,  so  that,  while  the  passes  from  the  head 
of  each  over  to  the  Val  Bregaglia  are  quite  easy,  the  ascent  on 
the  N.  slope  is  much  more  gradual  than  the  short  though  steep 
descent  on  the  S.  slope.  In  our  most  westerly  ridge  the  chief 
summits  are  the  Surettahorn  (9945  ft.),  just  E.  of  the  Spliigen, 
the  Piz  Timun  or  d'Emet  (10,502  ft.),  the  Pizzo  Gallegione 
(10,201  ft.),  a  little  W.  of  which  the  ridge  bends  from  a  southerly 
to  an  easterly  direction,  and  the  Pizzo  della  Duana  (10,279  f*.), 
to  the  N.E.  of  which  the  second  of  our  four  ridges  unites  with  the 
most  westerly.  In  that  second  ridge  the  chief  summits  are  the 
Piz  Platta  (11,109  ft-)  ^"d  t^^  Averser  Weissberg  (9987  ft.) — 
two  superb  belvederes,  accessible  with  ease  in  a  short  time  from 
Cresta  (6395  ft.),  the  chief  village  of  the  Avers  glen — while 
more  to  the  N.E.  are  the  twin  black  peaks  of  Piz  Forbisch 
(10,689  ft.)  and  Piz  d'Arblatsch  (10,512  ft.). 

Not  very  far  east  of  this  point  of  junction  and  of  the  tracks 
over  the  ancient  historical  pass  of  the  Septimer  (7582  ft.)  rises 
the  Pizzo  Lunghino  (91 21  ft.),  a  summit  of  great  topographical 
importance,  first  because  here  the  main  watershed  of  the  Alps 
splits  off  to  the  S.E.  over  the  Maloja  to  the  Bernina  Alps  (so 
that  henceforth  the  Albula  group  is  of  merely  secondary  im- 
portance), and  next,  because  from  it  (as  from  the  Wyttenwasser- 
stock  in  the  Lepontines)  streams  descend  towards  three  seas,  in 
this  case  to  the  Hadriatic  (the  Maira  joins  the  Po),  the  North 
Sea  (the  stream  from  the  Septimer  Pass  falls  into  the  Rhine),  and 
the  Black  Sea  (which  is  fed  by  the  Inn  through  the  Danube). 

Our  third  ridge  divides  the  Oberhalbstein  glen  (or  the  Julier 
route)  from  the  Albula  glen,  and  is  far  loftier  than  its  two 
more  westerly  neighbours.  First  we  have  the  very  considerable 
snow-covered  Err  group,  though  its  culminating  point  is  now 
called  the  Piz  del  las  Calderas  (11,132  ft.),  that  of  Piz  d'Err  being 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  339 

but  the  second  in  height  (11,093  ft.).  More  interesting,  how- 
ever, are  three  summits  that  rise  to  the  N.  of  the  Err  group,  the 
Piz  d'Aela  (10,959  ft.),  the  Tinzenhorn  (10,430  ft.),  and  the  Piz 
Michel  (10,378  ft.).  The  two  last  named  show  from  the  health- 
resort  of  Davos  as  boldly  as  the  Piz  Cengalo  and  the  Piz 
Badile  do  from  above  St.  Moritz  across  the  wide  opening  of 
the  Maloja,  while  all  three  are  true  Dolomites,  though  not  in 
the  South  Tyrol.  As  is  well  known,  magnesian  limestone  is 
found  sporadically  in  the  Alps,  outside  the  South  Tyrol.  We 
have  noted  several  peaks  of  this  nature  in  the  low  ranges  S.W. 
of  Grenoble,  in  the  Dauphine  Alps,  while  there  is  the  striking, 
though  isolated,  Pizzo  Columbe  (8363  ft.)  in  the  eastern  Lepon- 
tines,  between  the  St.  Gotthard  and  the  Lukmanier  Passes,  as 
well  as  the  quaint  group  of  the  Spliigen  Dolomites  (just  N.  of  the 
village  of  that  name,  and  also  in  the  eastern  Lepontines),  which 
attains  a  height  of  9991  ft.  in  the  Alperschellihorn.  But  the  Piz 
d'Aela  and  its  two  neighbours  seem  to  be  the  most  important 
and  loftiest  group  of  this  geological  character  outside  the  South 
Tyrol.  They  are  often  specially  named  the  '  Berglin  Dolomites  ' 
from  the  village  at  their  N.E.  foot,  and  now  on  the  Albula 
railway, 

Our  fourth  '  ridge '  is  rather  a  range,  or,  strictly  speaking,  two 
ranges,  separated  by  the  Scaletta  Pass  (8593  ft.),  by  which  Davos 
and  the  Upper  Engadine  most  easily  communicate,  for  the  Fliiela 
Pass  (7838  ft.),  though  traversed  by  a  carriage  road,  leads  from 
Davos  to  the  Lower  Engadine,  as  it  reaches  the  Inn  valley 
below  the  Punt'  Ota,  the  ancient  limit  between  the  two  divi- 
sions. Each  of  our  two  ranges  serves  as  the  centre  from  which 
radiate  a  number  of  glens  of  some  length,  mainly  on  the 
Davos  or  N.  slope,  though  the  Sulsanna  glen,  on  the  Engadine 
slope,  is  scarcely,  if  at  all,  inferior  to  them  in  this  respect. 
Each  group  culminates  in  twin  summits  of  nearly  equal  height, 
the  more  westerly  being  Piz  Kesch  (11,228  ft.),  the  loftiest 
summit  in  the  entire  Albula  group,  and  the  more  easterly  Piz 
Vadret  (10,584  ft.).  In  both  cases  the  actual  highest  peak 
was  first  conquered  by  an  English  party,  in  1864  and  1867 
respectively. 


id 


340     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

As  will  be  seen,  the  Albula  group  is  much  inferior  in  height 
to  the  central  mass  of  the  Bernina  Alps,  while  Piz  Kesch  is 
even  surpassed  by  the  Cima  di  Piazzi  (11,283  ft.),  the  monarch 
of  the  E.  wing;  the  Cima  di  Castello  (11,155  ft.),  the  highest 
point  on  the  main  ridge  of  the  W.  wing,  is  slightly  inferior 
to  Piz  Kesch,  though  the  true  culminating  summit  of  the  W. 
wing,  the  Monte  della  Disgrazia  (12,067  ft.),  is  indeed  con- 
siderably loftier.  The  peaks  of  the  Albula  group  are  thus 
rather  dwarfed  by  their  mightier  neighbours  across  the  upper 
Inn  valley.  But,  as  generally  happens,  the  finest  panoramas 
are  obtained  from  secondary  ranges,  so  that  the  Albula  group 
stands  very  high  in  this  respect.  The  writer  can  speak  en- 
thusiastically of  the  views  from  Piz  Platta,  the  Averser  Weissberg, 
and  Piz  dellas  Calderas.  That  from  Piz  Vadret  was  rather  dis- 
appointing, as  it  stands  at  a  wrong  angle  for  the  proper 
appreciation  of  the  central  Bernina  Alps,  while  to  the  N.W.  the 
snowless  summits  around  Davos  present  a  monotonous  aspect 
in  keeping  with  the  melancholy  associations  of  that  sad  spot. 
Envious  mists  hid  everything  when  the  writer  visited  Piz  Kesch. 
In  short,  the  Albula  group,  like  the  Lepontines,  offers  many 
superb  belvederes,  though  from  a  mountaineer's  point  of  view 
they  are  inferior  (saving  Piz  d'Aela  with  its  two  comrades, 
and  the  three  are  all  strangers,  so  to  speak,  in  the  region)  to 
most  of  the  Bernina  Alps. 

14.  Silvretta  and  RMtikon  Group. — This   group,  too,  is  a] 
lengthy  ridge,  with  the  usual  pair  of  spurs  or  outliers.     From ; 
the  Fliiela  Pass  its  watershed  runs  N.E.,  forming  the  Silvrettal 
(a  name  spelt   'Selvreta'   in   the   seventeenth   and  eighteenth! 
centuries)  group  (the  reader  may  or  may  not  adopt  at  his  choice! 
the  explanation  of  this  term  as  referring  to  '  forests  '  or  to  '  silverj 
snows')  that  rises  in  its  four  chief  peaks,  Piz  Linard  (11,201  ft.)J 
the  Verstanklahorn  (10,831   ft.).  Gross  Piz   Buin    (10,880   ft.)i 
and   the   Fluchthorn  (11,165  ft')»    before  it  sinks  to  the  com-* 
paratively  low  ridge  enclosing  the  Swiss  side  glen  of  Samnaun. 
Beyond  that  glen  the  Vesulspitze  (10,145  ft-)  ^-^^  the  Hexenkopf 
(9968  ft.)  are  the  highest  peaks,  as  the  range  gradually  falls  to^ 


ih.l 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  341 

wards  the  Reschen  Scheideck  Pass  (4902  ft.),  its  N.E.  limit 
as  well  as  that  of  the  Central  Alps.  The  Silvretta  range  thus 
runs  between  the  Swiss  Lower  Engadine  on  the  S.,  and  the 
Swiss  Prattigau  or  Landquart  valley  on  the  W.,  while  on  the 
N.  it  is  limited  by  the  Tyrolese  valley  of  Paznaun,  and  by  the 
Vorarlberg  valley  (also  Austrian)  of  Montafon.  It  is  practically 
convenient  to  annex  to  our  range  the  mainly  Tyrolese 
district  of  Ferwall,  that  Ues  N.  of  the  Paznaun  valley,  and  S.  of 
the  Arlberg  Pass  (5912  ft.),  its  loftiest  points  being  the  twin 
summits  of  the  Kuchenspitze  (10,401  ft.)  and  the  Kiichelspitze 
(10,315  ft.),  though  its  finest  peak  is  the  Patteriol  (10,037  ^t.), 
while  its  principal  belvedere  is  the  Hoher  Riffler  (10,368  ft.). 
The  frontiers  of  Switzerland,  the  Tyrol,  and  the  Vorarlberg 
meet  at  the  summit  called  for  that  reason  the  Dreilanderspitz 
(iO)539  ft:.).  But  this  politically  important  summit  stands  a 
little  to  the  N.E.  of  the  true  orographical  centre  of  the  region, 
the  Signalhorn  (10,539  ft.),  which  rises  a  little  to  the  N.W.  of 
the  mountains  named  Gross  Piz  Buin  (10,880  ft.)  and  Klein  Piz 
Buin  (10,696  ft.).  Hence  the  Silvretta  range  either  bends  N.W. 
or,  if  it  is  preferred  to  say  so,  throws  out  a  great  spur  in  that 
direction.  On  it  rise  the  Silvrettahorn  (10,657  ft.)  and  the 
rock  needles  of  the  Gross  Litzner  (10,207  ft.)  and  of  the  Gross 
Seehorn  (10,247  ft.),  before  it  sinks  to  the  well-marked  de- 
pression of  the  Schlappinerjoch  (7218  ft.).  This  pass  marks 
the  limit  between  the  Silvretta  group  and  its  continuation  in 
the  same  N.W.  direction,  the  Rhatikon  range  ('mons  Rsetico'), 
that  rises  in  the  Madrishorn  (9285  ft.),  the  Sulzfluh  (9252  ft.), 
the  Drusenfluh  (9282  ft.),  and  the  Scesaplana  (9741  ft.),  before 
ending  in  the  Falknis  (8419  ft.),  that  towers  over  Ragatz  and 
Sargans.  From  the  Signalhorn  the  N.W.  bit  of  the  Silvretta 
range  and  the  whole  of  that  of  the  Rhatikon  runs  between  the 
Swiss  Prattigau  valley,  on  the  S.W.,  and  the  Vorarlberg  (that  is, 
Austrian)  glens  of  Montafon  and  the  Wallgau,  on  the  N.E. 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  the  whole  of  our  group  smacks  of  the 
Tyrol  and  the  Vorarlberg,  thus  preparing  us  for  the  entirely 
Austrian  character  of  the  Eastern  Alps.  It  is  in  part  now 
politically  Swiss,  so  far  as  regards  its  S.  slope.     But  that  slope 


342     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

was  once  also  Austrian,  if  not  wholly  Tyrolese,  for  the  claims  of 
the  Habsburgers  over  the  Prattigau  were  not  bought  up  by  the 
Raetian  Leagues  till  1649-165 2,  while  the  Lower  Engadine  was 
Tyrolese  till  1652.  As  we  pointed  out  in  Chapter  vii.,  the  Tyrol 
itself  came  to  the  Habsburgers  in  1363,  while  of  the  region  later 
called  by  the  general  name  of  the  '  Vorarlberg '  (that  is,  '  before 
the  Arlberg  Pass,'  when  looked  at  from  the  point  of  view  of 
any  one  crossing  the  pass  to  Innsbruck),  the  town  of  Feldkirch 
was  bought  by  the  Habsburgers  in  1375,  as  in  1394  was  that 
of  Bludenz,  with  the  valley  of  Montafon.  The  long  and  close 
connection  between  the  Lower  Engadine  and  the  Tyrolese  glen 
of  Paznaun  is  illustrated  by  the  curious  fact  (pointed  out  in 
Chapter  ix.)  that  till  1383  Galtiir,  the  highest  hamlet  in  the 
Paznaun  valley,  was  included  in  the  parish  of  Ardez  (which 
still  owns  the  Gross  Fermunt  pastures  at  the  head  of  the 
Vorarlberg  glen  of  Montafon)  in  the  Lower  Engadine,  being 
then  allowed  to  have  a  priest  of  its  own  to  serve  the  church 
built  in  1359  owing  to  the  difficulties  of  communication  in 
winter  over  the  Futschol  Pass  (9098  ft.).  Even  to  this  day  the 
Fenga  or  Fimber  pastures,  on  the  Tyrolese  side  of  the  Fimber 
Pass  (8570  ft.),  belong  to  the  Swiss  villages  of  Remiis  and  Sent, 
in  the  Lower  Engadine,  so  that,  oddly,  the  Heidelberg  Club 
hut,  the  property  of  the  German  and  Austrian  Alpine  Club,  is 
actually  situated  on  politically  Swiss,  though  topographically 
Tyrolese,  that  is,  Austrian,  territory. 

The  Rhatikon  chain  generally  falls  in  fine  precipices  on  the 
Swiss  side,  but  the  N.  slope  offers  easy  access  to  the  crest — in 
fact,  many  of  its  highest  summits  are  of  what  has  been  called  the 
'  writing-desk  '  shape.  Hence  they  were  early  visited.  In  1742 
Nicholas  Sererhard,  the  pastor  of  Seewis,  gives  us  an  account  of 
his  ascent  (not  the  first)  of  the  Scesaplana,  though  he  did  not 
climb  it  straight  from  the  Swiss  side,  gaining  the  glacier  on  the 
other  slope,  by  which  the  now  usual  way  from  the  Liinersee  lake 
and  its  '  Club  hut'  (really  a  nice  little  mountain  inn)  was  joined. 
The  '  Club  hut '  is  named  the  '  Douglass  [sic]  Club  hut '  in  memory 
of  a  young  Scotchman  (John  Sholto  Douglas)  who  owned  a  large 
factory  near  Bludenz,  and  died  in  1875,  at  t^^e  age  of  only  thirty- 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS 


343 


six,  by  a  sad  accident  on  a  hunting  expedition.  He  had  done 
some  good  exploration  among  the  hills  around  Bludenz,  his 
finest  climb  having  probably  been  the  ascent  of  the  boldest 
summit  of  the  Rhatikon,  the  Zimbaspitze  (8678  ft.)  in  1863, 
which  he  was  the  first  traveller  to  visit,  though  it  had  previously 
been  attained  more  than  once  by  peasants  of  the  region.  The 
monarch  of  the  entire  group,  Piz  Linard  (11,201  ft.),  was 
certainly  scaled  in  1835  by  Professor  Oswald  Heer,  of  scientific 
fame.  But  old  Ulrich  Campell,  the  sixteenth  century  historian 
of  Rcetia,  has  a  wonderful  tale  of  one  Conrad  (whence  the  peak 
was  called  '  Piz  Chiinard '  or  '  Conrad ')  who,  at  some  date 
before  1573,  succeeded  in  vanquishing  this  terrible  mountain, 
and  planted  a  golden  cross  on  its  topmost  point.  Many 
attempts  were  made  later  to  reach  and  carry  off  this  cross,  but 
all  were  fruitless.  This  legendary  Conrad  and  his  peak 
reminds  us  of  Bonifacio  Rotario  and  the  RochemeloH;  near  the 
Mont  Cenis,  and  especially  of  the  eleventh  century  attempts  to 
carry  away  the  treasure,  deposited  on  its  summit  by  the 
mysterious  King  Romulus,  whose  name  was  applied  to  the  peak  as 
late  as  1456,  and  is  perhaps  to  be  detected  in  the  present  title 
of  the  mountain.  The  Fluchthorn,  the  second  peak  of  our 
group,  was  first  climbed  in  1861,  and  long  enjoyed  a  terrific, 
though  wholly  unmerited,  reputation.  But  it  was  not  till  the 
then  youthful  Swiss  Alpine  Club  set  to  work  in  earnest  that  the 
serious  exploration  of  the  range  commenced  in  1865,  the  next 
years  seeing  the  defeat  of  the  two  little  local  Matterhorns,  the 
Verstanklahorn  and  the  Gross  Litzner.  The  most  extensive 
glaciers  of  the  region,  such  as  those  of  Fermunt,  Jamthal,  and 
Larain  (note  that  in  each  case  the  special  name  *  Ferner,' 
applied  to  glaciers  in  the  Eastern  Alps,  is  applied  to  these,  a 
sign  that  we  are  not  far  from,  some  would  say  already  within, 
that  division  of  the  Alpine  chain),  are  on  the  Austrian  slope. 
But  that  of  Silvretta,  on  the  Swiss  side,  is  no  doubt  the  most  gene- 
rally known,  for  it  shines  on  the  horizon  when  looked  at  from 
the  head  of  the  Prattigau.  It  is  accessible  with  the  utmost  ease 
from  the  small  Silvretta  inn  and  is  perhaps  the  only  Alpine  glacier 
that  has  ever  been  the  scene  of  a  tobogganing  race  in  winter. 


344     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

At  either  extremity  of  our  group  are  two  singular  historical 
survivals.  At  its  N.W.  end  we  have  the  independent  princi- 
pality of  Liechtenstein  connected  by  a  Customs  Union  with 
Vorarlberg  and  by  a  Postal  and  Money  Union  with  Austria,  but 
a  sovereign  state  since  1866,  which  takes  its  name  from  far- 
distant  family  castles  in  Austria  and  in  Styria.  The  other,  the 
extreme  E.  outpost  of  our  region,  is  the  quaint  Swiss  valley  of 
Samnaun,  nearly  surrounded  by  the  Tyrol,  and  so  now  speaking 
Tyrolese-German  (instead  of  the  Ladin  it  had  kept  up  to  one 
hundred  years  ago)  because  its  communications  with  the  Tyrol 
are  very  easy.  Those  with  Switzerland  are  so  difficult  at  present 
that  recruits  pass,  with  rifles  and  in  uniform,  by  special  leave 
over  Tyrolese  territory  and  past  Bludenz  in  order  to  join  their 
Swiss  comrades  at  Coire;  the  new  carriage  road  now  being 
constructed  from  Martinsbruck  in  the  Lower  Engadine  to  the 
Samnaun  valley  will  soon  remedy  this  quaint  state  of  things. 

III.— Eastern  Alps 

15.  The  Alps  of  Bavaria,  the  Vorarlberg,  and  Salzburg. — 

This  group,  like  the  Alps  of  North-East  Switzerland  (No.  11),  is 
one  of  foot-hills,  though,  as  some  bear  perpetual  snow,  it  seems 
best  to  promote  these  ranges  to  the  rank  of  a  distinct  district. 
Our  present  group,  then,  comprises  all  the  comparatively  low, 
though  striking,  limestone  ridges,  that  rise  to  the  N.  of  a  line 
drawn  over  the  Arlberg  Pass,  and  past  Innsbruck  to  near  Brix- 
legg,  and  thence  over  the  Gerlos  Pass  (4876  ft.)  down  the 
Pinzgau  and  the  Enns  valley — in  short,  the  series  of  detached 
groups  that  crop  up  to  the  N.  of  the  mightier  snowy  ranges  of 
the  Rhatikon,  of  the  Silvretta,  of  the  Oetzthal  and  Stubai,  of  the 
Zillerthal,  and  of  the  Tauern  Alps.  As  in  the  case  of  the  Alps  of 
N.E  Switzerland,  no  peak  quite  attains  the  height  of  10,000  ft., 
the  loftiest  point  of  the  whole  region  being  the  Parseierspitze 
(9968  ft.)  to  the  N.W.  of  Landeck,  though  several  other  peaks 
that  rise  more  to  the  E.  are  perhaps  better  known  to  English 
readers  (not,  however,  to  English  travellers),  such  as  the 
Zugspitze  (9738  ft.),  theWatzmann  (8901  ft.),  and  the  Dachstein 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  345 

(9830  ft.).  The  reach  of  the  Inn  valley  extending  from 
Innsbruck  to  Rosenheim  divides  our  group  into  two  halves. 
To  the  W.  of  that  limit  are  the  mountain  masses  of  the  Allgau,  of 
the  Lechthal,  of  Wetterstein,  and  of  Karwendel,  while  to  the  E. 
of  that  portion  of  the  Inn  valley  are  the  Kaiser  and  the 
Kitzbiihel  ranges,  besides  those  of  Berchtesgaden,  of  Salzburg, 
and  of  the  Salzkammergut.  All  the  higher  summits,  save 
the  Dachstein,  the  Watzmann,  and  the  Hochkonig,  are  com- 
prised in  the  more  westerly  half,  the  watershed  of  which  is 
throughout  the  boundary  between  Bavaria,  on  the  N.,  and 
Austria  (that  is,  Vorarlberg  and  the  Tyrol),  on  the  S.  In  the 
other  half,  our  ranges  divide  Bavaria  from  the  Tyrol,  till  near 
Salzburg,  but  then  become  wholly  Austrian,  separating  the 
Austrian  provinces  of  Upper  Austria  and  of  Salzburg  from  each 
other.  No  one  can  fail  to  wonder  at  the  curious  fashion  in 
which  the  Berchtesgaden  country  makes  a  great  dip  to  the  S.  into 
Austrian  (Salzburg)  territory.  As  pointed  out  in  Chapter  vii., 
this  is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  secularised  territory  of  the 
Austin  Canons  of  Berchtesgaden,  given  to  Austria  in  1803,  but 
handed  over  to  Bavaria  in  18 10,  was  quite  forgotten  in  1814, 
when  Bavaria  had  to  restore  most  of  its  recent  acquisitions  to 
Austria,  and  so  was  retained  (despite  later  protests)  by 
Bavaria,  part  of  which  it  thus  forms  by  a  sort  of  historical 
accident.  To  us  this  quaint  bit  of  historical  geography  is 
specially  interesting,  as  in  consequence  the  Watzmann,  which 
rises  slightly  N.  of  the  watershed,  is  now  wholly  Bavarian,  the 
highest  purely  Bavarian  summit,  for  (since  1803)  the  Zugspitze 
is  on  the  frontier  ridge  between  Bavaria  and  the  Tyrol  (there- 
fore the  highest  point  of  which  any  slope  is  within  the  German 
Empire),  while  the  Parseierspitze  is  wholly  Tyrolese,  and  the 
Dachstein  is  at  the  meeting-point  of  Salzburg,  Upper  Austria, 
and  Styria. 

As  such  a  considerable  portion  of  our  group  is  on  the 
frontier  between  the  Austrian  Empire  and  Bavaria,  the  passes 
across  it  are  important  politically.  They  are  often  traversed 
by  carriage  roads,  which,  however,  rarely  exceed  the  height  of 
4000  ft.,  while  at  the  E,   extremity  railways  run  through  the 


346     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Lueg  gorge  from  Salzburg,  and  beneath  the  Pyhrn  Pass  from 
Vienna,  both  leading  to  the  Enns  valley,  and  thus  serving  as 
approaches  from  the  N.  to  the  Radstadter  Tauern,  the  pass 
which  we  have  selected  as  the  E.  limit  of  the  Alps.  In  both 
respects  our  group  is  better  off  than  that  with  which  it  has  most 
likeness,  the  Alps  of  N.E.  Switzerland,  but  of  course  in  the 
latter  case  political  and  frontier  considerations  do  not  come 
in.  Like  its  Swiss  rival,  our  group  can  boast  of  many  lakes. 
But  as  a  rule  these  are  much  more  extensive  than  those  of 
the  N.E.  Swiss  Alps,  which  are  little  more  than  mountain  tarns. 
Here,  on  the  contrary,  the  lakes  belong  rather  to  the  class  of 
the  Lakes  of  Thun  or  Brienz  or  Lucerne,  on  the  N.  slope,  or 
of  the  great  Lombard  lakes  on  the  S.  slope. 

There  are,  however,  other  points  in  which  our  two  groups 
resemble  each  other.  Each,  though  its  height  is  small  com- 
pared with  that  of  its  greater  neighbours,  displays  rock  precipices 
that  are  quite  astonishing.  In  our  group  the  gigantic  S.  walls 
of  the  Dachstein  and  of  the  Watzmann,  and  the  N.  wall  of  the 
Parseierspitze,  are  instances  of  this,  while  even  the  ordinary 
routes  up  the  Zugspitze  and  the  Parseierspitze  have  had  to  be 
rendered  accessible  to  non-climbers  by  iron  chains,  paths 
blasted  in  the  rock,  etc.,  just  like  the  Siintis.  Yet,  in  both  cases, 
the  chief  peaks  were  early  visited,  probably  because  men  then 
preferred  rocks  to  the  unknown  perils  of  the  snows.  The 
W.  Karwendelspitze  is  known  to  have  been  climbed  as  far 
back  as  1654,  the  Thorstein  in  1819,  the  Zugspitze  in  1820, 
the  highest  point  of  the  Dachstein  in  1832 — alone  the  Parseier- 
spitze remained  virgin  till  1869,  probably  because  it  did  not 
stand  on  a  frontier,  and  its  real  superiority  was  not  ascertained 
till  late. 

In  one  respect  portions  of  our  group  recall  far-distant  regions. 
The  hunting  rights  (especially  of  chamois,  and  particularly  in 
the  Karwendel  region)  are  owned  by  great  nobles  of  various 
nationalities.  These  have  constructed  paths  and  built  hunting- 
lodges,  for  their  own  convenience  naturally,  so  that  during  the 
hunting  season  (September — October)  travellers  are  warned 
against  visiting  these  ranges.     It  is  a  case  parallel  to  that  of 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  347 

the  Maritimes  and  the  Eastern  Graians,  where,  however,  it 
is  a  king  (the  ruler  of  Italy),  and  not  merely  great  nobles,  who 
have  bought  up  all  hunting  rights.  The  Floiten  glen,  in  the 
Zillerthal  Alps,  is  also  a  huge  game  preserve. 

16.  Ortler,  Oetzthal,  and  Stubai  Ranges. — It  may  seem 
strange  at  first  sight  to  consider  these  three  great  ranges 
together,  for  the  Ortler  group  rises  S.  of  the  main  divide  of 
the  Alps,  which  runs  over  the  crest  of  the  two  other  ranges. 
No  doubt,  if  we  were  trying  to  write  a  really  minute  and 
detailed  description  of  the  various  Alpine  groups,  it  would  be 
best  to  speak  of  these  three  chains  under  two  or  even  three 
heads.  But,  as  in  these  pages  we  are  merely  sketching  the 
outlines  of  the  subject,  and  not  writing  special  monographs, 
we  have  decided  to  include  all  three  in  one  group,  that,  after 
all,  is  far  less  extensive  than  the  Cottians  or  the  Graians, 
which  we  have  not  subdivided.  The  Stubai  Alps  are  really 
a  great  outlier  of  the  Oetzthal  range.  Taking  these  together 
we  see  that  they  face,  across  the  Vintschgau,  or  upper 
valley  of  the  Adige,  the  still  mightier  Ortler  range.  It  is  true 
that  between  the  Stelvio  and  the  Reschen  Scheideck  there  is, 
so  to  speak,  a  solution  of  continuity,  so  that  the  Ortler  range 
is  separated  from  the  Oetzthal-Stubai  range  by  a  tract  of  hilly 
country  that  forms  the  most  north-easterly  portion  of  the 
Bernina  group  (No.  12  above).  But,  as  we  explained  above, 
we  had  for  practical  reasons  to  draw  an  artificial  line  of 
distinction  between  the  Central  and  the  Eastern  Alps,  so  as 
not  to  include  in  the  former  the  Ortler  range,  with  the  highest 
summit  in  the  Tyrol.  That  line  passed  first  over  the  Reschen 
Scheideck  Pass,  and  then  over  either  the  Umbrail  or  the 
Stelvio  Passes,  in  order  to  reach  and  then  follow  the  course  of 
the  Adda  down  the  Valtelline.  Hence  our  present  group  is 
limited  by  those  passes  on  the  W.,  while  on  the  S.  the  Tonale 
Pass  (6181  ft.)  is  as  much  the  natural  boundary  of  the  Ortler 
range,  as  the  Brenner  Pass  (4495  f^-))  o^  the  E.,  is  that  of  the 
Oetzthal-Stubai  range.  But,  as  between  themselves,  the  Ortler 
range  is  cut  off  from    its   fellow   by   the   upper   valley  of  the 


348     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Adige  or  the  Vintschgau.  Taken  together  they  constitute  by 
far  the  most  extensive  and  important  snowy  region  in  the 
Eastern  Alps — indeed  this  would  be  almost  true  of  the 
Oetzthal-Stubai  half  of  the  group,  looked  at  by  itself. 

The  Ortler  range,  of  course,  stands  forth  before  any  other 
part  of  the  Eastern  Alps  by  virtue  of  the  fact  that  in  it  rises  the 
loftiest  summit,  the  Ortler  (12,802   ft.),   of  the  entire  Eastern 
Alps,  while    the  Tauern  group   (our  No.    18)   with  the  Gross 
Glockner  (12,461  ft.),  just   beats   the    Oetzthal,  with  its  Wild- 
spitze  (12,382  ft.).     Yet  the  Ortler,  like  so  many  other  peaks 
in   the  Alps — including   both    the  summits  just   mentioned — 
does  not  rise  on  the  watershed  of  its  own  group,  preferring 
to  stand  a  little  way  off  to  the  N.,  so  that  it  is  wholly  Tyrolese, 
just  as  the  Dufourspitze  is   wholly  Swiss  and   Monte  Viso  is 
wholly  Italian— in  each,  the  point  named  is  situated  on  what, 
technically  speaking,  is  but  a  huge  spur  or  outlier  of  the  main 
ridge.      The   Ortler   range  stretches  out  four   great    arms    or 
lateral  ridges  from  its  centre,  but  this  centre   is   not   a   single 
peak — it  is  the  high  snowy  ridge  or  crest  which  extends  from  the 
Suldenspitze  (11,100  ft.),  on   the  N.W,,  to  the  lower  summit 
(12,343  ft.)  of  the  Monte  Cevedale,  on   the   S.E.     From   the 
former    peak   radiate   the    two   great   ridges   that    enclose   the 
Sulden  valley,  so  well  known  to  travellers,  while  from  the  latter 
branch  off  those  that  form  the  boundaries  of  the  Val  Furva 
(or  Santa  Caterina  valley)  and  of  the  Martell  valley.     There 
can  be  no  question   that  in   mere   point   of  number  of  lofty 
peaks  and  passes  the  Ortler  range  easily  surpasses  any  other 
in    the    Eastern   Alps.      Yet  very   few   passes   across   it   were 
known  before  the  sixties  of  the  nineteenth  century.     This  is 
in  part  due  to  the  great  height  of  all  passes  over  it,  but  prin- 
cipally to   two  other  facts.      One  is  that  all  the   great    glens 
descending  from  our   range   soon   join   much  greater  valleys, 
on  which  they  are    dependent   in    every  way,  and  which  are 
traversed  by  great  routes  over  ancient  and  much  frequented 
passes — the    Reschen    Scheideck,    the    Stelvio,    the    Umbrail, 
and  the  Tonale,   so  that  there  was   little  necessity  for  any  of 
these   higher   glens   to  communicate   with  each    other.      The 


•^% 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  349 

other  fact  is  that  while  the  few  valleys  on  the  S.  flank  of  our 
range   are   naturally  and   always    have   been   attached   to    the 
Trentino  (an  Italian-speaking  region),  all  the  other  glens  that 
radiate   from   the  Ortler    range  join    either    the   upper   Adige 
(Vintschgau)  valley,  or  the  upper  Adda  (Valtelline)  valley — now 
these  two  great  valleys  have  for  centuries  been  closely  associated 
politically   and   historically,    first   as   belonging    to   the   Three 
R^etian    Leagues  (or  their  predecessors    in  title),  and  later  to 
the    Habsburgers.      Hence  there  did  not  exist  the  usual  in- 
ducements  to   smuggle   or   drive  an   honest  trade  across   the 
frontier,  while  if  any  one  did  wish  to  go  from  one  valley  to 
the  other,  he  could,  by  a  slight  detour,  well  worth  the  extra 
labour,    cross    the     Umbrail    or    the    Stelvio    Passes,    without 
adventuring   himself   into  trackless   deserts    of  snow  and  ice. 
Even  when  in  1859  the  Ortler  range  ceased  to  be  completely 
Austrian   and    lost    the    Valtelline    (held    since    1814-15 — the 
Trentino  having  been  finally  annexed  about  the  same  time)  and 
so  became  half-Italian,  the  habits  acquired  of  old  did  not  lose 
their  force,  and  it  was  reserved  for  the  early  Alpine  explorers  to 
force  passages  over  the  mighty  barrier  of  snow  that  had  so  long 
successfully  held  back  the  natives  of  the  surrounding  valleys. 

We  have  narrated  above  (see  Chapter  ix.)  the  history  of  the 
early  attempts  on,  as  well  as  of  the  first  (1804)  and  early 
ascents  of,  the  Ortler  itself,  which  form  a  most  interesting 
chapter  in  the  history  of  mountaineering.  After  Thurwieser's 
expedition  in  1834  the  entire  district  remained  unexplored, 
save  by  a  few  map  surveyors,  and  it  was  not  till  1864  that  the 
detailed  exploration  of  the  group  began.  In  the  very  first 
number  (March,  1863)  of  the  Alpine  Journal  there  appears  the 
following  query,  signed  by  the  initials  of  a  famous  English 
climber  of  the  day  (Mr,  A.  W.  Moore) :  '  The  Orteler  Spitze. 
Can  any  mountaineer  give  an  account  of  this  mysterious  peak  ? 
Has  it  ever  been  ascended,  except  by  the  mythical  Arch- 
duke?' The  answer  was  given  in  the  summer  of  1864,  when 
an  English  party  climbed  the  Ortler,  thirty  years  after  the  last 
successful  ascent,  and  also  made  the  first  authentic  ascenf  of 
the  Konigsspitze,  the  second  peak  of  the  district,     A  few  days 


350     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

later  in  the  same  year  an  Austrian  mountaineer  reached  the 
lower  summit  of  Monte  Cevedale,  but  was  prevented  by  an  icy 
wind  from  climbing  the  higher  peak,  which  was  conquered  by 
another  Austrian  in  1865.  From  that  date  onwards  the  group 
became  a  favourite  resort  of  climbers,  particularly  those  of 
Austrian  nationality.  Nowadays  Sulden  is  a  sort  of  Tyrolese 
Zermatt,  but  is  already  no  longer  what  Zermatt  was  in  the  sixties 
and  early  seventies.  The  other  main  centres,  Trafoi  and  Santa 
Caterina,  are  by  comparison  but  little  visited,  but  the  Ortler 
is  so  frequented  that  the  Payer  Club  hut  (9908  ft.)  is  really 
a  Httle  mountain  inn  with  room  for  about  a  hundred  tourists, 
(if  not  more),  while  it  boasts  of  several  waitresses  who  live 
there  in  summer,  and  also  of  a  daily  post  from  Sulden. 

Let  us  now  take  a  leap  across  the  Vintschgau  and  land  on  the 
outskirts  of  the  Oetzthal  range.  The  Oetzthal  itself  is  a  very 
long  valley  on  the  N.  side  of  the  group,  and  joins  the  Inn  valley 
at  a  point  considerably  nearer  Landeck  (i6f  miles)  on  the 
Arlberg  railway  than  Innsbruck  (28^^  miles).  Near  its  head, 
some  26  or  27  miles  from  the  Inn  valley,  the  Oetzthal  splits 
into  two  branches.  That  to  the  S.W.  leads  up  to  Vent 
(62 1 1  ft.),  the  cHmbing  centre  of  the  region,  while  that  to  the 
S.E.  gives  access  to  Ober  Gurgl  (6322  ft.),  the  highest  per- 
manently inhabited  village  in  the  Eastern  Alps.  From  the 
former  village  the  easy  glacier  pass  of  the  Hochjoch  (9465  ft.), 
and  from  the  latter  the  similar  Niederjoch  (so  called,  though 
higher,  9899  ft.),  lead  over  into  the  narrow  Schnals  valley, 
the  main  means  of  access  to  the  group  from  the  S.,  as  it  joins 
the  Adige  valley  some  twelve  miles  S.W.  of  Meran.  As  the 
Vent  region  in  old  days  formed  part  politically  of  the  bailiwick 
of  Kastelbell,  in  the  Adige  valley,  and  not  of  that  of  Petersberg, 
which  took  in  the  rest  of  the  Oetz  valley,  communications  over 
the  Hochjoch  must  have  been  frequent  in  former  times.  The 
first  passage  actually  recorded  was  made  in  1601,  when  a  local 
official  went  over  it  to  visit  the  scene  of  the  great  damage  caused 
the  year  preceding  by  the  breaking  out  of  a  lake,  formed  by  the 
advance  of  the  Vernagt  glacier,  a  little  above  Vent.  As  the 
highest   pastures   above  Vent   (those  of  Rofen,  the  refuge  of 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  351 

Frederick  with  the  Empty  Pockets  in  141 5)  and  Ober  Gurgl 
still  belong  to  men  of  the  Schnals  valley,  it  is  clear  that  both 
passes  have  been  traversed  for  generations.  From  Ober 
Gurgl  another  pass,  the  Gurgler  Eisjoch  (10,292  ft),  com- 
municates with  the  deep-sunk  Pfossen  valley,  the  last  farm  in 
which,  the  Eishof  (68 11  ft.),  is  stated  to  be  the  highest  in  the 
Eastern  Alps.  Further,  from  the  point  at  which  the  Vent  and  Ober 
Gurgl  glens  split  off,  the  track  over  the  Timmeljoch  (8232  ft.) 
not  merely  serves  to  mark  off  the  main  Oetzthal  range  from  that 
of  Stubai,  but  leads  to  the  Passeier  valley,  famous  as  the  former 
home  (at  or  near  its  chief  village,  St.  Leonhard)  both  of  Andreas 
Hofer,  the  hero  of  the  patriotic  resistance  to  the  French  in 
1809,  and  shot  by  Napoleon  at  Mantua  in  18 10,  as  well  as  of 
Josef  Pichler,  the  brave  man  who  first  successfully  stormed  the 
Ortler  in  1804. 

It  has  been  said,  rather  cruelly,  that  the  glaciers  in  the 
Oetzthal  region  are  too  big  for  the  peaks  that  they  surround. 
However  that  may  be,  the  two  longest  glaciers  of  the  district, 
those  of  Gepatsch  (6|  miles)  and  of  Hintereis  (6  miles),  are 
only  just  beaten  by  the  Pasterze  (rather  over  6^  miles)  in  the 
Glockner  region.  But  it  is  true  that  many  of  the  chief 
summits  of  the  Oetzthal  range,  though  sometimes  elegant  in  form, 
give  one  the  general  impression  of  having  been  rounded  and 
pressed  down  by  Nature,  so  that,  despite  their  height,  they  do 
not  strike  the  spectator  as  much  as  might  be  expected.  Of 
course  there  are  exceptions  to  this,  as  to  any  general  statements 
regarding  an  Alpine  region.  Of  the  two  highest  peaks  of  our 
region,  the  Weisskugel  (12,291  ft.)  rises  on  the  main  watershed 
of  the  Alps,  and  was  climbed  by  two  Schnalserthal  peasants  as 
far  back  as  1846.  This  is  a  very  recent  discovery,  as  the  first 
ascent  is  generally  placed  in  1861,  the  real  date  of  the  ascent 
of  the  highest  point  of  the  Wildspitze  (12,382  ft.) — its  second 
peak  16  ft.  lower,  was  reached  in  1848 — which,  though  the 
monarch  of  the  region,  rises  on  a  spur  far  N.  of  the  main 
watershed.  Most  of  the  peaks  of  the  Oetzthal  range  are  com- 
paratively easy  of  access,  and  were  attained  in  the  first  half  of 
the  nineteenth  century. 


352     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

The   one   considerable   valley   in    the   Stubai  whig   of    the 
Oetzthal  range  is  very  properly  that  of  Stubai,  which  opens  on 
the  N.E.  slope  of  the  group,  is  nearly  as  long  as  that  of  Oetz, 
and,  like  it,  splits,  near  its  head,  into  several  side  glens.     But  the 
main   valley   joins  the   Brenner   route   about   six   miles    S.    of 
Innsbruck,  whereas  the  Oetz  valley  unites  with  the  Inn  valley 
some  28i  miles  W.  of  that  famous  town.     Its  loftiest  point,  the' 
Zuckerhiitl,  is  but  11,520  ft.  in  height,  so  that  the  Stubai  wing 
cannot  compare  in  this  respect  with  the  Ortler  or  the  Oetzthal 
ranges,  while  it  was  ascended  only  in  1863,  the  district  indeed; 
coming  into  prominence  among  mountain  explorers  at  a  com- 
paratively late  date,  though  Thurwieser  was  up  the  Fernerkogel 
(10,827    ft.)  and   the   Habicht  (10,758   ft.)  as  early  as    1836. 
The   Zuckerhiitl  (the    name    being    translated   means    'Sugar 
cone ')  stands  some  way  to  the  N.  of  the  main  watershed,  while 
it  is  also  a  little  W.  of  the  spot  (occupied  by  the  Wilder  Pfaff, 
11,388  ft.),  at  which  the  Stubai  group  branches  off  in  three  armsj 
or  ridges.     Two  of  these  enclose  the  head  of  the  Stubai  valley.' 
The  second  and  the  third  close  that  of  Ridnaun,  to  the  S.E., 
and  surround  the  most  extensive  glacier  of  the  group,  that  of  | 
Uebelthal  (3!  miles  long).     Now  this  glacier  enjoys  the  proud;' 
pre-eminence  (probably  not   to  be  equalled   in   the    Alps)    of 
possessing  no  fewer  than  four  Club  huts,  one  of  these  (a  small] 
inn)  being  at  the  relatively  enormous  height  of  10,411  ft.     Iti 
is  stated  on  apparently  good  evidence  that  while  the  average 
height  of  the  main  Stubai  ridge  is  higher  than  anywhere  else  ini 
the  Eastern  Alps  save  in  the  Ortler  group,  the  average  steepness  of  j 
the  mountain  slopes  is  quite  unsurpassed  in  this  extensive  region,] 
while  it  is  wealthy  in  the  point  of  Club  huts,  and  in  its  entire^ 
length  from  N.  to  S.  not  a  single  non-glacier  pass  crosses  the 
main  ridge — surely  features  that  suffice  to  distinguish  what  is 
by  no  means  a  group  of  first-class  importance. 

17.   LomT3ard  Alps. — We  borrow  this  name  from  Mr.  Ball,] 
as   it   describes   with   tolerable   accuracy  the   group  that   no^ 
comes  before  us.     This  extends  from  the  head  of  the  Lak( 
of  Como   to   Trent,   including   all   the  ranges  that  stretch  SJ 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  353 

of  the  Valtelline,  and  of  a  line  drawn  across  the  Aprica 
(3875  ft.)  and  Tonale  Passes  (6181  ft.).  It  is  thus  dearly 
marked  off  from  other  groups,  the  two  passes  named  separating 
it  from  the  Ortler  group  on  the  N.  Our  group  is  entirely 
Italian-speaking,  while  its  W.  slope  is  (since  1859,  when  Austria 
lost  the  Bergamasca  to  Italy)  wholly  Italian,  though  its  E.  slope 
forms  part  of  the  Trentino,  or  domains  of  the  Bishop  of  Trent, 
which,  secularised  in  1803,  finally  passed  into  the  possession  of 
Austria  in  1814.  This  slope,  therefore,  forms  part  of  'Italia 
irredenta.'  Of  course  the  entire  group  is  far  S.  of  the  main 
watershed  of  the  Alps,  which  runs  through  part  of  our  Group 
16.  But  the  political  frontier  is  rather  oddly  drawn  across  the 
actual  watershed  of  our  present  group,  so  that  the  three  loftiest 
summits  included  in  it  rise  some  way  off  this  frontier — the 
Presanella  (11,694  ft.)  and  the  Care  Alto  (11,369  ft.)  to  the  E., 
and  therefore  w^holly  in  Austria,  while  the  Adamello  stands 
rather  to  the  W.,  and  so  is  wholly  Italian. 

Like  many  other  of  our  groups,  the  present  is  composed  of 
a  central  mass  and  of  two  wings.  But  rarely  can  it  happen 
that  the  wings  are  in  such  striking  and  extraordinary  contrast 
to  their  topographical  centre. 

That  centre  is  composed  of  vast  snow-fields,  separated  by  low 
ridges,  and  rising  at  their  outer  edge  into  various  small  summits 
not  very  much  raised  above  the  general  level — at  least  on  the 
Austrian  side,  for  the  Italian  side  is  far  steeper.  This  great 
crumpled  table-cloth  of  snow  culminates  in  the  Adamello 
(11,661  ft.),  and  falls  to  the  N.E.  in  the  extensive  Mandron 
glacier  that  closes  the  head  of  a  very  long,  finely  forested  glen, 
the  Val  di  Genova  (famous  for  its  waterfalls),  which  is  watered 
by  the  Sarca  torrent.  This  stream,  having  from  its  source 
flowed  eastwards,  turns  S.  near  Pinzolo  (the  tourist  centre  of 
the  region),  and  again  E.  at  Tione  before  it  takes  another  S. 
bend  at  Alle  Sarche  and  soon  enters  the  Lake  of  Garda  after 
a  zigzag  course.  Now  the  central  Adamello  mass  throws  out 
to  the  S.E.  a  spur  that  rises  in  the  Care  Alto  (11,369  ft.),  while 
to  the  N.E.,  after  a  considerable  fall,  it  rises  once  more  to  form 
first  the  fine  rock  peak  of  the  Busazza  (10,922  ft.),  and  then  the 
z 


354     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

snowy  Presanella  (11,694  ft.),  the  most  striking,  as  well  as  the 
loftiest,  peak  of  the  region. 

E.  of  the  Presanella  the  range  falls  to  the  low  pass  leading 
from  Pinzolo  to  Dimaro  in  the  Val  di  Sole,  on  which  stands 
the  sanctuary  and  great  hotel  of  Campiglio.  To  the  E.  of  a  line 
drawn  from  Campiglio  to  Tione  rise  the  Brenta  Dolomites^  our 
first  real  Dolomite  range,  which  attains  the  height  of  10,420  ft. 
in  the  Cima  Tosa,  and  11,352  ft.  in  the  Cima  di  Brenta,  and 
which  divides  the  Sarca  valley  (from  Pinzolo  to  Tione)  from 
the  Adige  valley  between  Mezzo  Lombardo  (where  the  Noce 
stream  from  the  Tonale  Pass  falls  in)  and  Trent.  There  is 
not  very  much  snow  in  the  Brenta  Dolomites,  but  the  splintered 
rock  pinnacles  are  amazing  in  shape  (some  are  actually  named 
by  the  natives  themselves  the  '  Fulmini,'  that  is,  thunderbolts), 
while  the  great  gateway  of  the  Bocca  di  Brenta  (8376  ft.), 
pierced  between  the  two  highest  summits  of  the  range,  is 
often  the  first  revelation  of  Dolomite  fascinations  to  the 
traveller.  On  the  Pinzolo  side  of  the  pass  the  Crozzon  di 
Brenta  (10,247  ft.)  is  a  most  imposing  rock  summit,  while  on 
the  other  slope  the  wanderer  descends  to  the  idyllic  Lake  of 
Molveno.  The  exploration  of  this  most  singular  and  remark- 
able range  has  been  largely  carried  out  by  English  travellers 
since  Mr.  Ball  crossed  the  Bocca  di  Brenta  in  1864;  in  1865 
the  Cima  Tosa  fell  to  him,  and  in  187 1  the  Cima  di  Brenta 
to  another  English  party,  but  the  Crozzon  was  not  overcome 
till  1884,  and  then  by  a  German  chmber. 

The  central  mass  of  the  Adamello  was  mainly  first  explored, 
from  1864  to  1868,  by  an  Austrian  climber,  Herr  Payer,  later 
of  Arctic  fame.  In  1864  he  climbed  the  Adamello,  three  weeks 
after  an  EngUsh  party  had  vanquished  the  Presanella,  while 
another  English  party  captured  the  Care  Alto  in  1865,  though 
the  Busazza  held  out  till  conquered  by  two  German  travellers 
in  1889.  A  notable  feature  of  the  central  Adamello  mass 
is  the  number  of  wild  and  uninhabited  (save  by  herdsmen 
in  summer)  glens  that  descend  from  it,  like  the  spokes  of  half 
a  wheel,  to  the  S.  (to  the  Chiese,  that  empties  itself  in  the 
Lake   of  Garda),   as    well   as   to  the  W.  and   N.W.  (in  these 


THE  DIVISIONS  AND  GROUPS  355 

cases  the  torrents  sooner  or  later  swell  the  Oglio  in  the  Val 
Camonica). 

To  the  W.  of  the  central  Adamello  mass,  and  separated 
from  it  by  the  carriage  road  over  the  Aprica  Pass  (3875  ft.), 
stretches  the  range  that  forms  the  W.  wing  of  our  group — the 
Bergamasque  Alps.  Short  steep  glens  descend  on  the  N.  slope 
to  the  Valtelline,  while  on  the  S.  slope  two  considerable  valleys 
descend  from  the  highest  crest  towards  Bergamo,  the  natural 
capital  of  the  district — the  Val  Brembana  and  the  Val  Seriana. 
These  are  flanked  on  the  W.  by  the  Val  Sassina  and  the  Val 
Varrone,  which  pour  their  waters  into  the  Lake  of  Como,  while 
far  to  the  E.  of  the  two  main  valleys  of  the  Bergamasque  Alps 
is  the  Val  di  Scalve,  a  tributary  of  the  Val  Camonica  or 
Oglio  valley,  that  lower  down  forms  the  Lake  of  Iseo.  The 
lower  portion  of  the  Val  di  Scalve  is  the  most  remarkable  bit  of 
all  the  Bergamasque  valleys,  for  the  imposing  rock  gorge  carved 
out  by  the  Dezzo  torrent  is  now  traversed  by  a  very  picturesque 
carriage  road,  so  that  this  defile  has  been  called  the  'Via 
Mala  Bergamasca.'  Of  the  two  main  valleys  the  Val  Seriana 
is  the  wilder  and  more  Alpine,  while  the  scenery  of  the  Val 
Brembana  is  throughout  extremely  varied  and  picturesque. 

The  easiest  and  most  frequented  pass  across  our  range  from 
Bergamo  to  the  Valtelline  is  that  of  San  Marco  (6513  ft.), 
reached  through  a  side  glen  of  the  Val  Brembana  and  traversed 
by  a  mule  path.  A  little  below  the  pass,  on  the  S.  side,  is  a 
very  ancient  inn,  that  formerly  displayed  the  golden-winged 
lion,  as  a  sign  that  one  was  here  on  the  Venetian  territory, 
to  which  our  region  belonged  from  1428  to  1797,  becoming 
Austrian  in  1815,  and  in  1859  Italian.  This  sign  and  inn 
are  mentioned  by  the  quaint  early  English  traveller,  Thomas 
Coryat  {c.  1577-1617),  familiarly  known  as  the  '  Odcombian 
Legstretcher,' who  in  1608  made  a  pedestrian  journey  through 
Europe,  in  the  course  of  which  he  crossed  the  Alps  twice 
and  traversed  our  Pass  of  San  Marco.  His  object  was  to  go 
from  the  Venetian  Bergamo  to  the  Rsetian  Valtelline,  while 
avoiding  the  Spanish  Milanese.  The  highest  summit  of  the 
Bergamasque  Alps  is  the  Pizzo  di  Coca  (10,014  ft.),  but  the 


356     THE  ALPS  IN  NATURE  AND  HISTORY 

Pizzo  di  Scais  (9974  ft),  the  Monte  Redorta  (9964  ft.),  the 
Monte  Gleno  (9459  ft.),  and  the  Presolana  (8239  ft.)  are  better 
known  to  the  few  travellers  who  have  as  yet  explored  the 
higher  portions  of  our  range.  Far  more  famous  are  the  peaks, 
celebrated  as  splendid  belvederes,  of  the  Monte  Legnone 
(8563  ft.)  and  of  the  Grigna  (7907  ft.),  both  at  the  W.  edge  of 
the  region,  and  not  far  from  the  E.  shore  of  the  Lake  of  Como. 
There  are  a  few